Santa Claus doesn’t come to Sweden (or St Nick or Father Christmas).Â Instead there is Tomte.
Tomte means gnome, and these gnomes take care of houses, especially farm houses in the country.Â There is a special Christmas Tomte who knocks on the door Christmas eve and throws in some gifts.Â This is why Christmas gifts are called Julklapper – Christmas knocks.Â (I’m not making this up!) If there is a picture of Santa then people here call him Tomte, but Tomte is cuter than Santa Claus, more hair and beard and usually a big nose.
Tomte often enlists the Julboken to help carry all the gifts.Â Â It is unendingly ironic that reindeer are not used, since reindeer probably outnumber people in Sweden, at least in the North. Tomte is short but not a fat guy at all; he doesnâ€™t eat cookies on Christmas eve, he would prefer you left him a bowl of warm porridge.Â Thatâ€™s what you need on long cold Nordic nights.
When thereis a hetero-gnome couple, they are called Tomtemor and Tomtefar (Tomte mother and father).Â It is common to have christmas cookies that are ‘Tomtemor’ brand or ‘Gameldags Tomtemor’ (old-fashioned Tomtemor) brand.Â One of my male work mates pointed out that it is sexxist to only make Tomtemor brand, since he is a dude and he makes Christmas cookies.Â Damn straight! Sexism hurts men too, and recognizing and talking about sexism in the lunch room is another thing that makes Sweden great.