Tomte’s arrived! Our daughter loves her Christmas gnome dearly
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Tomte’s arrived! Our daughter loves her Christmas gnome dearly

Decorating the Christmas tree, eating sweets, unwrapping little gifts – for kids, the run up to Christmas is one of the highlights of the year. For our daughter, there’s an extra thrill: Christmas gnome Tomte. He’ll be turning our family life on its head again over the next few weeks.

Once upon a time there was a little being with a bobbly nose, a white beard and a long red, pointy cap. To be fair, we don’t know that for a fact, because we’ve never actually seen our soon-to-be five-year-old daughter’s Christmas gnome. But what we are seeing is that he’s starting to make himself comfortable in our home. As in previous years, Tomte’s coming over to make Zoe's pre-Christmas time that little bit sweeter – both literally and figuratively

Day 0: first signs of Tomte. Construction is on. Mira the cat’s confused.
Day 0: first signs of Tomte. Construction is on. Mira the cat’s confused.
Source: Sofia Vogt

A tradition from up north

The Christmas gnome tradition originates from Scandinavia. In Denmark, for example, the pre-Christmas family tradition is called «Julenisse». Alongside elves and trolls, gnomes are an integral part of Nordic fairy tales, legends and stories. Depending on the story, the dwarf-like creatures are said to have magical powers they lose if they’re spotted by humans.

This is roughly what Christmas gnomes look like. At least that’s what we humans think.
This is roughly what Christmas gnomes look like. At least that’s what we humans think.
Source: Shutterstock / overkhola

Zoe’s gnome’s named after Tomte Tummetott, the classic children’s book by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. As the Christmas gnome literature has grown steadily over the years, the range has also become larger.

Advent calendar with a twist

Advent calendars are generally fun for all ages. Depending on their theme, they contain little treats, games or other surprises for every day leading up to Christmas. If you’re giving your children an Advent calendar you’re making yourself, my fellow editor Katja Fischer has a few ideas in store for you:

  • Guide

    Filling your children’s Advent calendars yourself? Here are 24 ideas

    by Katja Fischer

Her suggestions also work really well if you’re teaming up with a Christmas gnome this year. After all, he also brings one gift a day in the run up to Christmas and even goes a step further. Similar to his North American equivalent Elf on the Shelf, the gnome writes your child little letters or plays tricks on them or the whole family (minus the scary vibe Elf on the Shelf gives off.).

One of the stunts Tomte pulled on us was drawing a moustache or a red nose on our faces when we were sleeping. Once he turned the cereal milk blue, the little rascal. Harmless fun like that. Zoe looooves it.

Haha! As if I didn’t have enough facial hair already.
Haha! As if I didn’t have enough facial hair already.
Source: Sofia Vogt

The Christmas gnome hears and sees everything

Tomte’s letters to Zoe often refer to the gift on that day. If it’s bath day, for example, he mentally prepares her for it by gifting her some water dye. Or he rewards her with a new toy if she was particularly good the previous day.

Tomte knows everything. Also when Zoe’s had a bad day and been far from well behaved. In his letter, he then politely asks her to shout less or pay better attention to what mum and dad say. A bit like Santa, just every day and not just on 6 December.

What presents your Christmas gnome brings, what pranks he plays and what he puts in his letters totally depends on you and your child, of course. The possibilities are endless and there are no limits to your imagination.

40 magische Weihnachtswichtel-Ideen (Doreen Blumhagen, German)
19.10 CHF

40 magische Weihnachtswichtel-Ideen

Doreen Blumhagen, German

40 magische Weihnachtswichtel-Ideen (Doreen Blumhagen, German)
Textbooks
19.10 CHF

40 magische Weihnachtswichtel-Ideen

Doreen Blumhagen, German

The living room’s a construction site

This year, the time had come on a Wednesday morning in November. As soon as we got up, Zoe let out a loud cry of joy as she discovered the first signs of Tomte’s imminent arrival in the living room. Since then, the construction phase has been underway, with new things being added daily.

Day 5: The elaborate set-up might even involve a hot air balloon.
Day 5: The elaborate set-up might even involve a hot air balloon.
Source: Sofia Vogt

Everything will be ready by 1 December at the latest. That’s when Tomte takes the lead and adds magic to Zoe’s life day after day. All the gifts and ideas for outings all the way up to Christmas are his. Mum and dad are helpful sidekicks at best. Zoe doesn’t need to know that we’re pulling the strings in the background. She’ll find out soon enough. May she believe in the magic of Advent for as long as possible.

This is what 2021 looked like. Let’s see what Tomte comes up with this year.
This is what 2021 looked like. Let’s see what Tomte comes up with this year.
Source: Sofia Vogt

Until then, Tomte and his friends still have a lot to do. I’ll let you know once the assembly’s complete. Who knows, maybe I can coax one or two ideas for a present or a prank out of Tomte until then... Watch this space!

Conventional or homemade Advent calendars, Christmas gnomes, Elf on the Shelf or something completely different: how do you get your child excited about the run-up to Christmas? The Community and I look forward to your comments.

Header image: Patrick Vogt

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I'm a full-blooded dad and husband, part-time nerd and chicken farmer, cat tamer and animal lover. I would like to know everything and yet I know nothing. I know even less, but I learn something new every day. What I am good at is dealing with words, spoken and written. And I get to prove that here. 


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