Published: 17-03-2010, 08:45


Jultomten: Denmark, Norway, and Finland

Jultomten: History

In Sweden, Christmas gifts are brought by the Jultomten. The word Jultomten combines the Swedish word for Christmas, Jul, with the word tomten, which means household fairy or elf. The Jultomten is often depicted as a portly gnome with a white beard and a pointed red cap. During most of the year this creature hides under the staircase, in the attic, or in any other dark corner of the house. The Jultomten emerges on Christmas Eve, tucking small gifts into unlikely locations about the house. Capricious by nature, the Jultomten may reward or punish householders depending on his mood. Old customs suggest that the family leave small offerings of porridge and milk, or even liquor and tobacco, about the house to appease him.

Each family or neighborhood may elect a member to dress up as the Jultomten. After assuming a disguise that will hopefully hide his or her identity from the children, the Jultomten knocks on the door with a sack of presents. When the door opens the Jultomten asks, "Are there any good children here?” and distributes presents accordingly.