Tomte – One of the most popular Scandinavian mythological characters2015
By Anastacia Sampson
In Sweden there is the Nisse, Nisser or Tomte. The tomte is reputed to safeguard the farmer and his family, as well as the land the farmer owned or worked on against any misfortune. It was especially during the night that the tomte was actively being protective.
In ancient times the tomte had links to the original inhabitor of the farm, as the tomte was believed to be the soul of that man. During early Christianisation, it was a frightful accusation to have been linked to having a tomte on your farm. A neighbour farmer could be jealous of his neighbour’s wealth and accuse the prospering farmer of keeping a tomte. This carried huge ramifications as now the accused was linked to the devil;as the tomte at the time was considered heathen.
Generally the tomte has in history been a solitary character, not social. The belief in the tomte has been widespread in Scandinavian countries and to this day Sweden still has stories of him.