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#SwedishChristmas: How a folklore tomte became Sweden's Santa

The creature who went from the floorboards of farmhouses to the embodiment of Swedish Christmas, here painted by Jenny Nyström.

Published: 06.Dec.2018 07:59 hrs

Every day until Christmas Eve, The Local explains the unique history behind Swedish Christmas traditions in our own Advent calendar.

Like many iconic storied figures, the Jultomte is the child of centuries of folklore and tradition combined with cherished modern literary and artistic interpretations.

Although often referred to as the Swedish Santa, the archetypal Jultomte is really only nominally a Santa Claus, whose origin story goes back to the 4th century Saint Nicholas. Jultomten, on the other hand, originated as a tomte – an ancient creature akin to a sprite that, according to Scandinavian folklore, lived in the hidden spaces of buildings on family farms and brought both good fortune and mischief to residents and neighbours.

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