December 5, 2011

Gnomes and Tomtes

What’s a tomte, you say?? I’m so glad you asked! My husband’s best friend got us into the tomte gig. Or rather, his sweet mother did. Although she herself hails from New Zealand, she married into a Swedish-Finnish-American family and every year at Christmas they read about the tomtes and make pulla, which is Finnish tea bread. (I’ve linked to two different recipes, one with raisins, one without. Take yo pick!)

Tomtes are sort of a Scandinavian version of an elf or a gnome, and they traditionally were thought to keep watch over a farmer’s home and children and protect them from harm at night, while everyone slept.

On Christmas Eve each year, this book is read at our friend’s house:

‘The Tomten’ is written by Astrid Lindgren, of ‘Pippi Longstocking’ fame. This quiet, snowy, magical book is all about how a tomten protects the farm he guards from a marauding fox. But don’t feel sad for the fox! He gets some Christmas love too, in the end.

I got so into the tomtes, I had to go out and find this book. I was sold on the title alone:

Will Papa Tomte get his Christmas pudding? This is high intrigue!! Don’t you want to know? The author, Sven Nordqvist, is one of Sweden’s most popular children’s authors and I’m so excited to read his ‘Findus and Pettson’ series!

And lastly, we have some Very Cute Gnomes. Want to know more about gnomes? Want to know more about what gnomes do at Christmas? ‘A Gnome’s Christmas’ will tell you! Just got this one and it is seriously adorable. Would be best for 7-8 year olds, but lots to enjoy for the K-1 set as well.

Holiday customs about gnomes, gnome recipes, songs, and little short stories about gnomes at Christmastime. Lots of fun packed in a darling little book!

So are you enchanted by the tomtes? All you bread makers out there, you owe it to yourself to try making pulla! My husband and I fight like wild dogs over every morsel and scrap of this bread that our friend’s mother gives us each year. And she even bakes a small tomte shaped tiny loaf for my kiddo! And then my husband and I eat it. Like wild dogs. (our daughter is still learning to appreciate cardamom.) We can’t get enough of the stuff!

(Image credit of first Tomten book jacket photo:


  1. Oooh, I may have to try my hand at pulla. I've never made a braided loaf before. Those books look adorable. I love anything gnome! :)

  2. Oh Michelle, if you make bread you should really try this!! I am going to hopefully get my first bread making tutorial from my friend's mom this year!! xo, Melissa

  3. I love Gnomes!! Super cute Christmas books.

  4. very fun. We like the tomtes. First read about them in a Jan Brett Book. Some sort of egg book? I can't remember. ;) But we liked it.

  5. Hey Vanessa, I'm telling ya, we seem to have arrived on a theme this year for holiday reading and it is CHRISTMAS LITTLE FOLK!! :) ~Melissa

  6. Do I like Tomtes?! What a silly question!Of COURSE I do! We actually bought the top book by Lindgren in a little town called Lindsborg, Kansas-- Little Sweden USA ;)
    Its such a lovely quiet and sweet little book. I love the illustrations too. Recently on my art Facebook page my husband was raving about the awesomeness of I guess he likes them too! Lol, he's such a good sport about my obsessions. Like driving me 4 hours up to Kansas so I could go to a little Swedish town and just squee for a few hours and babble about Carl Larsson , tomtes and jod jul paraphenalia ;)