What Do They Call Santa in Sweden?
Santa Claus, known by various names around the world, is a beloved figure associated with the joy and magic of Christmas. In Sweden, Santa Claus is referred to as “Jultomten” or “Tomte.” The Swedish Christmas traditions are deeply rooted in folklore and customs, and Jultomten holds a special place in the hearts of both children and adults.
Jultomten: The Swedish Santa Claus
Jultomten, also known as Tomte, is a mythical creature deeply ingrained in Swedish culture. He is portrayed as a friendly, elderly man with a long white beard, wearing traditional red and white clothing. Jultomten is believed to reside in the Swedish countryside or forests, where he lives in a small cottage. According to folklore, he travels to people’s homes on Christmas Eve to deliver gifts to children.
The Origin of Jultomten
The origins of Jultomten can be traced back to ancient Swedish folklore and customs. Tomte, derived from the word “tomt,” meaning “plot of land” or “homestead,” was believed to be a protector of the household and farm animals. It was customary for Swedish farmers to leave a bowl of porridge or a plate of food for the Tomte to ensure prosperity and good fortune.
Over time, this tradition merged with the concept of Santa Claus, and Jultomten became associated with Christmas gift-giving. The modern-day Jultomten is a blend of the mythical Tomte and the international figure of Santa Claus.
Jultomten’s Duties and Appearances
In Sweden, Jultomten is known for his generosity and kindness. Similar to Santa Claus in other countries, he brings gifts to children on Christmas Eve. However, unlike the Santa Claus depicted in popular media, Jultomten does not usually slide down chimneys or ride a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Instead, Jultomten traditionally knocks on the door and enters the house to personally deliver the presents.
In many Swedish towns and cities, Jultomten makes public appearances during the Christmas season. He can be seen at shopping centers, schools, and Christmas markets, where children eagerly line up to meet him and share their Christmas wishes.
Frequently Asked Questions about Jultomten:
1. How do children in Sweden prepare for Jultomten’s visit?
Children in Sweden often leave a bowl of rice porridge, a glass of milk, or a plate of traditional Christmas treats for Jultomten. They also hang stockings or place straw ornaments near the Christmas tree, hoping to receive gifts.
2. Does Jultomten have a helper, similar to Santa’s elves?
Yes, Jultomten is accompanied by “tomtenissar,” which are small mythical creatures assisting him in delivering presents. They are known to be mischievous but helpful.
3. Is Jultomten the same as Santa Claus?
Jultomten is the Swedish equivalent of Santa Claus, but with distinct cultural elements and traditions. While they both bring gifts, Jultomten has a closer association with Swedish folklore and customs.
4. How is Jultomten celebrated in Sweden?
Jultomten is an integral part of Swedish Christmas celebrations. Families gather on Christmas Eve, exchange gifts, and enjoy a festive meal. Jultomten’s visit is eagerly anticipated, and children often perform songs or recite poems to welcome him.
5. Are there any regional variations in Sweden regarding Jultomten’s appearance?
Yes, there are variations in Jultomten’s appearance across different regions of Sweden. For example, in some areas, he is depicted wearing a pointed hat, while in others, he may be seen carrying a staff or walking stick.
6. How does Jultomten travel across Sweden?
Jultomten is often believed to travel by sleigh pulled by magical reindeer, similar to Santa Claus. However, as mentioned earlier, the traditional belief is that he walks or rides a horse to deliver gifts.
7. Is Jultomten only associated with Christmas?
While Jultomten is most commonly associated with Christmas, his presence can also be felt during other festive occasions in Sweden, such as Midsummer celebrations and Easter.
Jultomten, the Swedish Santa Claus, embodies the spirit of Christmas and brings joy to children and families throughout Sweden. With his timeless charm and connection to Swedish folklore, Jultomten continues to be a beloved figure in the hearts of many, adding enchantment to the holiday season.