A Good Home, Advent Traditions, Christmas, Christmas Decorations, Christmas Traditions, Christmas Tree Trimming, Nisser, Scandinavian Christmas

The Nicer Nisser

Inge had a way of always putting the best forward.  A Danish-American living in California, she always found a positive way to view a challenging situation.

She fell off a ladder once. Broke her arm and sustained multiple bruises. The fact that she fell from a ladder while decorating her house for Christmas might have made the situation extra challenging. Who wants to go through Christmas battered and bruised?  But it didn’t stop Inge from being cheerful.  Her daughter is my good friend, and it was one of the things we marveled about: both our mothers’ capacity for seeing the positives. Both women had been through tough times, but came out the other end of it with joyfulness.

Inge also collected Nisser – the tiny elf-people that visit people’s homes. Not surprisingly, she collected the kind, cheerful Nisser, the ones you may see in Scandinavian homes at Christmas.

The Nicer Nisser - 1
The Nice Nisser – 1

Inge died a few years ago, and her daughter has inherited some of the Nisser.  So they will be visiting her own home this Advent and Christmas, a fact which makes my friend very happy.

(Yes, I know the ones in these photos are dolls. The real Nisser are usually invisible.)

But my friend warns that the “drille Nisser” – like the one who made my family’s appliances break down recently — could still come out on Christmas Eve!  We are advised to leave out a bowl of sweet porridge for them the night before – preferably with lots of cinnamon.

Nicer Nisser 2
Nice Nisser 2

This post is dedicated to the memory of Inge, and to all who take joy in Christmas.

29 thoughts on “The Nicer Nisser”

    1. When I first read this, Georgeina, I thought you said “may all your Nisser be mice”. What a relief to re-read it. Yes, I like your saying – wonder if they say that in Scandinavia?

  1. If your Nisser are mice I hope they’re nice mice. I think you’re OK, to be honest, I think the dodgy Nisser, or Chaos Fairies as I call them, are very much living with me at the moment.



  2. Well, I hope the Nisser that visit leave fairy dust rather than chaos. I love these sorts of tales. Wouldn’t it be nice if porridge with cinnamon warded off all evil? What a nice thought.

  3. I have never heard of Nisser either! I think we have them in our house at the moment and not the nice Nisser! Phones, lap-tops and now the oven – all behaving badly! Thank-you for posting this again Cynthia!

  4. These looked so familiar that I had to go look them up. They are indeed the same thing the Swedes call Tomte’s. My children’s paternal grandmother was Swedish and always called them Tomtegnoma’s. I think that’s where we get our gnomes from. MIL was mild collector of these but I had not heard of them even though my own mother was German. She spelled her name Inge the same as the Danish woman you wrote about. It caught my attention. Mom was a big fan of Christmas. Things like the nisser’s bring a bit of whimsy to a dreary winter.

  5. I have a few of these tomte nisser at home and my mother has a larger selection. They are Tomte’s (FAther Christmas) helpers during this busy time. Cynthia, this is a lovely post and loving tribute to your friend.

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