12.23.2009

A Tomte Christmas



So, here's the thing. Santa is lame. That's what I've recently concluded after comparing him to his much cooler Swedish counterpart, the Tomte.

The Tomte is a mythical creature in Scandinavian folklore who was initially believed to take care of farmer's animals and children and protect them from misfortune. Unlike Santa, he is portrayed as a dwarf - a wiseguy or prankster with a a penchant for animals (like Kurt!). He was also a shape shifter, incredibly strong and in some tales, a cyclops! He was benevolent and compassionate, but if crossed, his wrath was deadly.

Over the years, his reputation has improved, portraying him as a figure kind of like Santa. A realer Santa. Like instead of reindeer, he rides a goat. He lives in Greenland, or Lapland or something. Gifts are hand delivered, and he uses the front door instead of the chimney. He dresses like a farmer and is rather svelte - his belly does not shake like a bowl full of jelly. He's like the working man's Santa. I've heard other renditions as well. Some people say there is a Tomte living under the floorboards of their homes, and he comes out once a year on Christmas. In exchange for gifts, Tomte asks the children to tell him jokes or sing a song. When we have kids one day, how cute would it be to have a talent show for Tomte? Kurt could appear from the closet, wearing a gray beard, riding on Mule's back, demanding their best dance numbers.

Astrid Lindgren (author of Pippi Pongstocking) wrote two very adorable children's books, The Tomten and The Tomten and the Fox, chronicling Tomte's secret excursions into the night. He speaks a secret little language that only animals and children understand, and on a particular night in the dead of winter, he whispers promises of summer's eventual warmth and beauty in their cold ears. I like that.

Something random: See that little cabin in the photo? You put an incense log inside and the smoke comes out the chimney. Isn't that COOL? !!! I gave it to Kurt- an early Christmas present from the Tomte. Also, in case you were wondering, we did use dry ice to create the ominous mist around the cabin. Kurt works in a doctor's office, and they receive shipments of Botox packed in dry ice. He likes to bring it home in his lunch sack and surprise me with random, eerie vignettes around the house. Like, this one time, he put it in the toilet. I was fixing to have a heart attack when I opened the lid and discovered that our toilet bowl was a bubbling, smoking cauldron of mystery.

4 comments:

  1. Paine's Balsam Fir! It's not a woodsy Xmas without it. That photo is both artistic and hilarious.

    I hear that Botox is being touted as a treatment for anxiety. Theory goes if you can't knit your forehead into an anxious wrinkle then you can't feel your anxiety as keenly. I'm half tempted. The other half of me is too scared by the rare complication known as death.

    Tomte is very pale and likes to hang out in cabins, too. Hmmm..... Etymologists in the house?

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