When I first heard about the Scandinavian little dwarf who comes at Christmas, I immediately fell in love!
A Nisse (Denmark and Norway), Tomte (Sweden) or Tonttu (Finland) is a very tiny man or women of the size of a little child but with a long, white beard and a red jelly bag cap. There are different types of Nisse but in general they are little servants who secretly help within the household and protecting the house and farm. But this is only, if they are treated well (for example with sweet rewards). If they are ignored, they can turn against the owner of the house and play you tricks.
The Nisse family consists of the so called Kirkennisse (who helps out in the church to keep it clean), Gårdnisse (who helps out in the farm) Skovnisse (who lives in the forest and fields and leaves wanderers mystical traces), Skibsnisse (who travels on boats and warns the sailor in case of danger but also plays him tricks), Sætternisse (who puts writing errors into newspapers and books). And last but not least, there is the so called Julenisse who is the most famous one.
There are different interpretations of the Julenisse. In some stories the Julenisse helps (the European) Santa Claus to bring the presents. Other stories only talk about the Julenisse as an other version of Santa. Anyway, Julenisse brings the presents to the children by coming through the main door (not the chimney). So every family needs to make sure that there is a special place on the table for Julenisse and a tiny bed prepared so he (or she) can rest after he has done his/her work. Most importantly: prepare him/her something to eat. This can be bear, flat bread or (most famously) milk rice (Danish “risengrød“). He/she will love it.
Otherwise it can be that the Julenissen gets angry with you and your family and plays you nasty tricks throughout the whole next year…
Your don’t want that!
And to please him/her in particularly, here’s an instruction I found really adorable to tinker his/her home:
What you need:
A doll’s house door (e.g. on Amazon)
A brush and paint