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Santa for hire Posted by on Dec 21, 2009 in Culture, Swedish Language

Most people enjoy Christmas immensely and for young children one of the most exciting event is getting Christmas gift (julklappar) from Santa. In Sweden Christmas is celebrated on the 24th as in many other European countries, which many of you might already know.

Santa (Tomten) comes to families’ houses around 4 PM and personally hands out the presents to all the children. Sadly, the adults do not get any; sorry all of you who might have been hoping. This need for a physical figure is, to my knowledge, unique. Kris Kindle in Germany,  Santa and Father Christmas never actually need to appear in front of us. This poses a problem for most Swedish families since they want to be at home with their families on the 24th. “Vem ska vara Tomte i år?” (Who is going to be Santa this year?) is a commonly asked question. Relatives (släktingar) have to start taking turns. This is a huge stress factor for families with youngsters. Parents wrap the presents they are going to give their children and give them to the person who is Tomte for them that year.

And so a business is born. Teenagers can earn a bit of money within a couple of hours on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately alcoholics get this job as well, which has been known to scare the living daylights out of small children and even the older ones who have stopped believing in Tomte.

Is it a good thing to have a physical Tomte? In my opinion it was great growing up with, but doesn’t it make Christmas somewhat fake when you find out that Tomte isn’t real?

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  1. Anbud på måleri projekt:

    great article. Are Tomten or ultomten both the synonyme of santa claus?

  2. katja:

    Yes that right, Jultomten and Tomten är the same as Santa but they do a little bit different things, like you never see Santa Claus etc.

  3. Luke (Sydney):

    Interesting custom! Santa doesn’t (or don’t) hand out toys himself in Australia but he does take time to have photos taken with children in EVERY shopping center though. Most of these shopping center Santas must be very scary—to young children at least—as it’s a common scene to see a crying toddler sitting on a Santa’s lap.

  4. Carla:

    fniss! In my (Canadian) house, Santa comes when we are at church on Christmas Eve.!

    Min pojkvän says Swedes watch Donald Duck on julafton and while it’s on, your Dad goes out to buy the newspaper and that’s when Tomten comes! Somehow Dad and Tomten never meet! fniss

  5. katja:

    Yepp that is something that you will see in ALL Swedish films, either dad goes out to buy the newspaper or milk. This is a PERFECT example of a very typically Swedish tradition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pARJpWgFslM&feature=related check out from 5.50 min to about the end of the clip. Warning though, if you can’t understand a lot of Swedish this might be a little bit hard… Sorry. You can check on youtube if there are any subs. I suggest trying to watch it anyway! Good luck everybody!

  6. katja:

    Btw, most Tomtar out and about are trying to sell stuff so we don’t get as many Tomtar sitting in malls with kids on their laps. Though if we did I think there would be lots of crying. Personally I’m glad that there aren’t as many “Santas/Tomtar” in the malls. I hate hearing children cry!