Jultomten - The Christmas Man

"Jultomten" has been in Swedish traditions from the late 19th century. Earlier the "julbock" the Christmas Goat, came with presents on Christmas Eve. Even the Christmas goat was a disguised man dressed up to look like a goat. The presents have a very old tradition and originally was bound to the New Year and a wish of everything good for the coming year.

In folklore every good farm had a "hustomte" which could be translated as a house gnome or a brownie. He lived in the barn and looked after the homestead if the people was nice to the animals. He wanted a bowl with good porridge at Christmas. There is a very popular poem by the Swedish author Viktor Rydberg "Tomten" In that poem the little man is walking the homestead around pondering over the problems of human life.

The pictures of the 19th century "tomte" is very much influenced by the Christmas cards by the Swedish artist Jenny Nystrom and she was influenced by the folklore of the "hustomte".

The being who is coming with the presents at Christmas nowadays is very much influenced by the international pictures and the tales about St Nicolaus and the American pictures of Santa...
You meet him in the stores and in the market places and he is quite another apparition than that little old man of Jenny Nystrom.

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