God Jul

Let me share a Christmas memory with you.

I spent many Christmas on my grandparent’s farm, and in Sweden, there is/was a belief that little elf’s, or tomtar, are watching over the farm, the people and especially the animals. And if you treated them well, they will keep you and your farm safe. But if you neglected them, and especially if you neglected your animals, they could be quite mischievous. On Christmas eve, you would put out a bowl of rice porridge on your front step to show your appreciation and to keep tomten happy.

My mother has told me stories of how she and grandma would clean the barn and take extra good care of the animal at Christmas time. (By the time I came around the farm was no longer a working farm)

Growing up in Sweden, on Christmas Eve, we did not have a Santa Clause that would arrive unseen through the chimney, but the “Jultomte” would arrive on foot early in the evening. He would bang on the door and ask if there were any kind children in the house. He was invited in to hand out presents before he would disappear back out into the dark. My grandmother would offer him homemade toffee and saffron bread to nourish him on the way home. Who made the presents and where he spent the rest of the year remained a mystery. My grandfather would elude that tomten lived just north of the farm in the woods. I remember as a kid going into the woods and finding small hollows under the fir trees and imagining tomten living there. Tomten was an ever-present being, year-round, watching out for us and the farm.

Living in the US, we have had tomten visit us every Christmas Eve and my daughter one year made the comment that tomten always seem to take on the looks of someone you love.

I wish you a peaceful holiday, and may your tomte make it a special day for you as well.

God Jul,


PS. Eventually, I started questioning why grandpa always was out to buy the evening newspaper just as tomten showed up!




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