Gnomes and Santas: Scandinavian Christmas Symbols

The Scandinavian countries follow a multitude of traditional customs in connection with the Christmas celebrations. The most important and culturally significant f them as far as majority of the Scandinavian countries are concerned is the concept of a little dwarf like creature, who could either play pranks on the children or bring good to them according to how they treat him.

The celebrations in association with Christmas in Scandinavia vary according to the countries. Each of the Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, and the Danish territorial country Greenland has its own culturally diversified customs of celebrations. It is believed that the above mentioned dwarf puts gifts for children under the Christmas tree during the Christmas Eve. Generally known by the name Julenisse, this dwarf usually gets a bowl of porridge from the children.

In Sweden, this gnome is known by the name Tomte. Usually anyone of the family puts on the clothes of this dwarf after the dinner on Julafton, which means Christmas eve in Swedish language. Christmas in Scandinavia has a different specialty in Sweden, where usually the Christmas celebrations start on the Saint Lucia Day, which falls on December 13. In this counry the Christmas home decorations include red tulips also.

Christmas in Scandinavia has certain common features in Norway and Denmark. In both these countries, the Christmas Gnome is known by the same name, Nisse. In Denmark, people offer rice puddings as a gift for the gnome to persuade him to be nice to them. The parents usually decorate the Christmas trees with colourful bangles before letting their children see it. In Norway, a special cookie, named Sand Kager is made in homes and the children used to visit every home in the neighbourhoods seeking treats in the afternoon.

In Finland, the Christmas traditions are almost similar to the same in the Scandinavian country Sweden. But Finland has its own traditions particular for the Christmas celebrations like the steam bath called the Finnish sauna.

Christmas in Scandinavia differs in Iceland in many aspects. Especially, not less than 13 Santa Clauses visit the country during the season. These all Santas have different names and different legends behind. The children of each home in Iceland used to put an empty shoe on the window during the beginning of the season. Any of the Santa Clauses will place a gift inside the empty shoe if the children of the house behaved nicely. If the children received a potato in the shoe, it signifies the bad behaviour of the children. A Danish territory, Greenland, though geographically not part of Scandinavia, has certain features in association with the Christmas.

Most of the traditions and customs observed as part of Christmas in Scandinavia are meant to give light and warmth as this season is marked with lowest temperature and snowfall. According to the tradition, the family members including the servants sleep on single bedspread made of straw.