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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.

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Saint Lucia

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Saint Lucia
December 13th is the Church feast day for Saint Lucia. Despite the fact that she was Sicilian, she is one of the few saints celebrated in the overwhelmingly Lutheran Scandinavian countries.

While the feast of St. Lucia has been observed since the Middle Ages, the tradition of processions began in the late 18th century in Sweden. Public processions of women, wearing white robes and carrying a single candle, are popular and often televised. A girl is elected to head the procession, portraying St. Lucia. She also wears a red sash and a crown of candles. The candles symbolize the fire that refused to take St. Lucia's life.

During the Middle Ages, December 13th was the approximate (Julian) date of the winter solstice. According to folklore, a witch, Lussi, emerged with her followers during this longest night. It was thought best to stay indoors and celebrate noisily. Many Scandinavians still observe that tradition.

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Tomte with Goat

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Tomte with Goat

It is a mid-winter day on an arctic farm. The light is from a distant lantern. The shadows are soft. The barn is dark. It is quiet and calm.

In Scandinavia during the Romantic Era, it was a tomte who delivered Christmas gifts.

Earlier, tradition held that it was a Julbock (or Yule goat) that delivered Yuletide gifts. Some parts of Scandinavia still hold this tradition.

Here, they both sit for a much needed rest!

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Tomte with Christmas Tree

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Tomte with Christmas Tree
Winter is a time to reflect upon the cycle of life, on death and rebirth. Against the backdrop of whites and grays, against the barren wastes of winter, evergreens always seem a welcome relief. Although the Druids drew parallels with immortality and attributed divinity to evergreens, there is no readily available evidence of pagan religious connections to the Christmas tree.

Beginning in the late Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees in and around their homes during winter. It was done in anticipation of the green of the coming spring.

The Christmas tree tradition began during the 15th and 16th centuries with trade guilds in Northern Germany, Latvia, and Estonia. They erected large spruce trees decorated with sweets for apprentices and children to enjoy on Christmas Day.

After the Reformation, wealthy Protestant families displayed these Christmas trees in lieu of the Catholic Christmas Cribs. This custom remained largely confined to Upper Rhineland until the Romantic Era of the last half of the 19th century when it spread rapidly.

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Tomte with Moose

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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.

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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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