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Christmas 2013

The cards for this season feature the tomte of Scandinavian folklore. This small hominid
had a deep affection and respect for the land and all of its animals.

It is his love for animals that is the theme of the artwork on the cards for this season.

Total Search Results: [ 13 ]

Image Item Name
Tomte with Bear

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Tomte with Bear

It is a clear winter noon in the arctic forest. The sun is near the horizon. The light is flat. Shadows are soft. Heavy snow clings to the pines, but the green hue that reflects from the snow below seems to come from everywhere.

In Scandinavia during the Romantic Era, it was the tomte who delivered Christmas gifts. He is shown here delivering a small gift to a brown bear.

The position of the bear's hands and the bear's expression of delight say it all. I am reminded of myself sitting under the Christmas tree as a child.

The sentiment reflects on our own sense of what is valuable and precious.

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Tomte with Mistletoe

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Tomte with Mistletoe
European mistletoe is a parasitic shrub that grows into the bark of trees. It has small yellow flowers and berries filled with a white, sticky, mildly poisonous liquid. It has long been associated with male fertility and virility. As early as the second century BC, the Druids considered it sacred and attributed magical powers to it. Around winter solstice, the darkest part of the year, mistletoe was hung to protect a house from malevolent spirits.

The Romans used mistletoe as a decoration, and incorporated it into celebrations of Mithraism. During the third century, when the Christian Church decided that the Nativity would be celebrated on December 25, mistletoe was ordered replaced with holly in all celebrations. Holly's sharp leaves were said to symbolize the thorns in Jesus' crown and the red berries, His blood.

Although the tradition of kissing underneath mistletoe was known in 16th century England, it may be Scandinavian in origin. A young man who found a girl standing under mistletoe would reach up, pluck a berry from the sprig, and put it into her mouth. She would swallow the berry and then grant him a kiss. When the berries were gone, the kisses ended.

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Tomte with Birds

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Tomte with Birds

It is the late morning of an Arctic early winter day. A recent snowfall has draped a white blanket across the bare trees. Nearby is a still somewhat warmer sea. It has produced a thick fog that spreads across the landscape. Only the nearby bullfinches offer any interest. In the distance colors simply become a brighter shade of gray.

Tomtar had a deep love for all animals. These bullfinches obviously share the delight of this one's company. You can almost hear them sing!

All that is missing is an invitation to join them.

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Tomte with Gingerbread

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Tomte with Gingerbread
About 1000 AD, the monk, Gregory of Nicopolis, moved from the Central Anatolia region of Turkey to the Central Loire Valley of France. He led a hermit's life, living off edible roots and wild honey, in Baudrevilliers near the Saint Martin-le-Seul church.

The Abbaye de Micy explained: "To his meals Gregory invited priests, holy ministers, and even pious lay people... With his own hands he made a cake with honey and spices, just like in his homeland. With a smile on his lips, he offered it to them at the end of the meal... His guests, on tasting the cake, believed they were experiencing all the delights of Heaven."

During the remaining seven years of his life, Gregory taught the local inhabitants to make gingerbread. He became the patron saint of the nearby city of Pithiviers, and his Pain d'Epices became a regional delicacy.

During the 13th century, monks in Germany baked similar confections. By 1444, Swedish nuns at the Vadstena Abbey were baking gingerbread to remedy indigestion.

In Scandinavia, thin, brittle gingerbreads are a popular Christmas season treat; preparation is often a family effort.

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Tomte with Moose

Tomte with Moose

It is an afternoon on an arctic early winter day. It is cold. The snow is falling; the air is beginning to dry. A haze has lifted. Everything shows a hint of blue. Close objects are clear, but the snow diffuses the view of distant objects. It provides a special softness to the background that brings the subject into immediate focus.

Tomtar were said to be excellent riders. One is shown here on a moose.

A tomte sitting atop a moose, the white beard, the pointed hat, the falling snow… it all seems magical. But then, there always was a magical sense about the Christmas holidays.

“The snow is blown.
The moose is loose.
The magic is just begun.
Happy Holidays!”

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