Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tomten= Santa
Armies of Gnomes Bringing Christmas Cheer

Sweden generally has a much more elegant christmas aesthetic than the States. There are white triangles of lights in windows instead of blinky colored light on rooftops. Stars hanging in windows instead of fan powered inflattable penguin snow domes in the yard. But then, there are the gnomes....

And Sweden it is not immune to American Christmas cheesiness. This Santa display, in what I call Swedish Wal-Mart- Bo Ohhlson's (it is the one store that sells a bit of everything- you can buy shoes, baby clothes, a mop, and lawn chairs in the same store, which is a diversity of merchandise not commonly found in Sweden) was singing Elvis when we first spied it. It then turned ol' Julio Iglasias' voice to wish me a Feliz Navid. It would have been the best if it was singing in Swedish...

video

The Santas were the familiar tribute to American style Santa, who are based on the images evoked in "A Visit from St. Nicholas/ The Night Before Christmas" by Clement Clarke Moore published in the Troy, New York Sentinel on December 1823.

In Sweden, Santa is called Tomte. Generally speaking tomte are little gnomes who live on your farm, usually in the barn. They are often grumpy, and prone to retaliation if they or your animals are mistreated. They are valued helpers you work hard to keep satisfied, and appreciate it if you make an offering to them a good bowl of rice pudding every now and again. The more typical Swedish Christmas decorations reflect the idea of the farm tomten who looks like a bearded older man gnome, instead of the American looking Santa. The Swedish idea of Santa's appearance comes from the poem Santa published in 1881.

(You can thank google translation for the weird translation below! But welcome to my world- where total understanding is not likely and daily living requires a bit of imagination and extrapolation).

Tomten
Santa
Ursprungligen publicerad i Ny Illustrerad Tidning 1881.
Originally published in the New Illustrated Newspaper 1881.Midvinternattens köld är hård,
Midvinternattens cold weather is tough,
stjärnorna gnistra och glimma.
the stars sparkle and gleam.
Alla sova i enslig gård
All sleep in the secluded courtyard
djupt under midnattstimma.
deep in the midnight hour.
Månen vandrar sin tysta ban,
Moon hike its tacit ban,
snön lyser vit på fur och gran,
snow white lights on pine and spruce,
snön lyser vit på taken.
snow white lights on the ceilings.
Endast tomten är vaken.
Only the land is awake.

Står där så grå vid ladgårdsdörr,
It says so gray when ladgårdsdörr,
grå mot den vita driva,
gray against the white run,
tittar, som många vintrar förr,
look, as many winters before,
upp emot månens skiva,
up to Moon's disc,
tittar mot skogen, där gran och fur
looking towards the woods, where spruce and pine
drar kring gården sin dunkla mur,
draws on the farm his shadowy wall,
grubblar, fast ej det lär båta,
hews, but not the learning
ata, över en underlig gåta.
of a strange conundrum.

För sin hand genom skägg och hår,
For his hand through the beard and hair,
skakar huvud och hätta
--- shakes head and bonnet ---
»nej, den gåtan är alltför svår,
»No, the mystery is too difficult,
nej, jag gissar ej detta
» --- no, I guess not this "---
slår, som han plägar, inom kort
strikes, which he Plage, shortly
slika spörjande tankar bort,
slika ask minds,
går att ordna och pyssla,
can be arranged and tweaking,
går att sköta sin syssla.
going to go about their job.
Går till visthus och redskapshus,
Navigate to visthus and redskapshus,
känner på alla låsen
--- aware of all the locks ---
korna drömma vid månens ljus
cows dream at the Moon Light
sommardrömmar i båsen;
Summer dreams in the booths;
glömsk av sele och pisk och töm
forgetful of the harness and whipped and empty
Pålle i stallet har ock en dröm:
Podium in the house also has a dream:
krubban han lutar över
krubban he leans over
fylls av doftande klöver;
--- filled with fragrant clover; --- Går till stängslet för lamm och får,
Navigate to the fence for lamb and sheep;
ser, hur de sova där inne;
look, how they sleep in there;
går till hönsen, där tuppen står
go to the hens, which are cockerel
stolt på sin högsta pinne;
proud at their highest perch;
aro i hundbots halm mår gott,
Karo in the dog bots straw feel good,
vaknar och viftar svansen smått,
wake up and waves his tail small,
Karo sin tomte känner,
Karo's Santa know,
de äro gode vänner.
they are good friends.Tomten smyger sig sist att se
Santa creeping up finally to see
husbondfolket det kära,
husbondfolket the ladies,
änge och väl han märkt, att de
long and well, he noticed that the
hålla hans flit i ära;
keep his diligence in glory;
barnens kammar han sen på tå
children's combs his late on toes
nalkas att se de söta små,
approach to see the cute little,
ingen må det förtycka:
no one shall be the oppression:
det är hans största lycka.
it is his greatest happiness.
Så har han sett dem, far och son,
So he has seen them, father and son,
ren genom många leder
clean through many leads
slumra som barn; men varifrån
slumber as a child, but from where
kommo de väl hit neder?
coming to the well-hit Dutch?
Släkte följde på släkte snart,
Genus followed the race soon,
blomstrade, åldrades, gick --- men vart?
flourished, aging, went --- but where?
Gåtan, som icke låter Riddler,
which allows non -
gissa sig, kom så åter!
guess, came as re!

Tomten vandrar till ladans loft:
Santa will walk to the barn loft:
där har han bo och fäste
where he live and drew
högt på skullen i höets doft,
would be high on the höets fragrance,
nära vid svalans näste;
close at swallow nest;
nu är väl svalans boning tom,
now well swallow habitation empty,
men till våren med blad och blom
but the spring with leaves and flowers
kommer hon nog tillbaka,
she will probably back;
följd av sin näpna maka.
Following his näpna wife.
Då har hon alltid att kvittra om
Then she always chirp about
månget ett färdeminne,
event a journey of memory,
intet likväl om gåtan, som
Nevertheless, nothing about the riddle,
which rör sig i tomtens sinne.
move the plot in mind.
enom en springa i ladans vägg
Through a slot in the barn wall
lyser månen på gubbens skägg,
lit moon on the old man beard,
strimman på skägget blänker,
stripe on the beard shiny,
tomten grubblar och tänker.
santa chews and thinking.
Tyst är skogen och nejden all,
Quiet is the forest and Nejden all,
livet där ute är fruset,
life out there is frozen,
blott från fjärran av forsens
fall only from the remote proper case
höres helt sakta bruset.
Slowly höres quite noise.
Tomten lyssnar och, halvt i dröm,
Santa is listening and, half in a dream;
tycker sig höra tidens ström,
believe themselves to hear tomorrow's power,
undrar, varthän den skall fara,
wonder, whither it be a danger,
undrar, var källan må vara.
wonder, was the source may be.

Midvinternattens köld är hård,
Midvinternattens cold weather is tough,
stjärnorna gnistra och glimma.
the stars sparkle and gleam.
Alla sova i enslig gård
All sleep in the secluded courtyard
gott intill morgontimma.
good next morning hour.
Månen sänker sin tysta ban,
Luna lowers its tacit ban,
snön lyser vit på fur och gran,
snow white lights on pine and spruce,
snön lyser vit på taken.
snow white lights on the ceilings.
Endast tomten är vaken.
Only the land is awake.

1 comment:

Johan Z said...

Final line kinda screws it up.
It´s actually "Only Santa is awake"
(Or The Tomte is awake).
Tomten also means "The property" in swedish.