Thursday, December 22, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 278

Swedish Christmas greeting postcard, 1964

As we rapidly approach the holidays here is a Swedish postcard that was sent by a friend in 1964.  The card was printed in Stockholm by Nordisk Konst and has the number 7800 on the reverse in the lower left corner.  The artist's signature at the lower right corner is hard to decipher.  It looks like it might be Kägfoler or Mägfoler.

The Swedish tomte is similar to the Norwegian nisse and stems from Scandinavian folklore.  They are usually no taller than 3 feet and can be as small as a few inches, have a long white beard, wear a cap, and dress in bright colors, most often red.  The December 2012 postcard Thursday #70 shared a card with Norweigan nisser on it.

The card above shows three children and a jolly tomte swooping down hill on a sled with the Christmas dinner pig in a wicker basket.   The tomte is said to resemble present day garden gnome statues.  Sometimes in stories he is said to be an ancient farmer who was buried on the farm in a mound.  Also thought to be the representation of spirits of previous generations who lived on a family farm some legends suggest that the tomte can follow the family if that family moves to another place.  The tomte also can act as a secret guardian of houses, barns and the entire farmstead.  However, since he is also known to have a quick temper and become easily offended he will play tricks and may even steal things or maim livestock.  He is said to have immense strength, especially given his small size.  Following the establishment of Christianity in Scandinavia the tomte was seen to be heathen and fell out of favor for a time.   The modern tomte; however, is more benign and associated with gifts much like Father Christmas or Santa Claus.

 He is often seen with a pig, another popular holiday symbol thought originally to be associated with fertility.  Today the traditional Scandinavian Christmas dinner includes a ham.  As a sign of gratitude for the secret protective services of the tomte a bowl of porridge topped with butter is put out for the tomte.  And that is not unlike the plate of cookies often left for Santa.  Pictures of tomtar and nisser are frequently found on Christmas cards, calendars, and appear in children’s books.  They hide from humans and are often able to use magic.  

The stamps on the card are rather plain but since no other Swedish stamps have been shared so far, they are included below.  The blue stamp shows the profile of King Gustav VI Adolf (1882-1973).  The red stamp with the postage amount.

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