In Scandinavia, Pixies or Nisse is a household spirit that is responsible for the care and prosperity of a farm or family. A Nisse is usually described as a short man or woman (under four feet tall) wearing a red cap. While belief in guardian spirits is a very old tradition in Scandinavia, belief in Nisser was prominent in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Denmark, southern Norway and southern Sweden. Many farms claimed to have their own Nisse. The Nisse took an active interest in the farm by performing chores such as grooming horses, carrying bales of hay, and other farm-related tasks. These chores were usually done much more efficiently and effectively than by their human counterparts.
However, Nisser could be temperamental, to say the least. If the household was not careful to keep its Nisse satisfied -- usually in the form of a single bowl of porridge with butter in it left out on Christmas Eve -- the spirit could turn against its masters.
In the 1840s the farm's Nisse became the bearer of Christmas presents in Scandinavia, and was then called "Julenisse" and has been associated with Christmas ever since.
The Swedish "Jultomte", the Norwegian "Julenisse", the Danish "Julemand" and the Finnish "Joulupukki" still has features and traditions that are rooted in the local culture: he doesn't necessarily retreat to the North Pole, but lives in a forest, field or stream nearby, or in Denmark he lives on Greenland, and in Finland he lives in Lapland; he or she does not come down the chimney on Christmas night, but arrives through the front door, delivering the presents directly to his household friends.
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