Monday, January 17, 2011

Christmas - The Nordic Pixy/Den Nordiske Nisse



The Nordic pixy (nisse) is a house-god from Denmark, Scania and Norway, he reminds about the Roman lares. Sweden has a similar character, named Tomte. The Nisse has got his name from the old Danish name Nis or Niels. He is known as a creature from Nordic folk tales and fairy tales, often wearing a red cap. Today the nisse is primarily a symbol of Christmas, but from the earliest tales are both forest-nisse, church-nisse and farm-nisse.

He lives in houses, stables and barns and act as a protecting spirit of the farm and household. He takes care of the livestock , especially the horses, and he works at the farm, bringing luck to the farm-people. But the nisse was not always a good person. If he was treated bad, he might take a terrible revenge and even kill people. If he left the farm, he took the good luck with him. 

He liked to do some easy  teasing, and it was not difficult to keep on friendly terms with him. He only needed a bowl of porridge with a big lump of butter at festivals. If he was respected, he made an effort to help the farmer, he might even steal from neighbouring farms - and there were often fights among the nisse-guys. The nisse also loved to tease the farm-dog- No one understood why it barked so much - but the nisse made himself invisible and was able to change into an animal, like a goat, goose or horse.

In his human figure the Farm-Nisse was the size of a 10-year old child, he looked like an old man with a beard, with grey clothes and red cap. Beyond his duties at the farm he also played cards and smoked a pibe.The ordinary old farm-nisse was always alone.


The Christmas Nisse was invented in 1836, he is the only one with a family.

The Church Nisse is present in many fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. He lives in vicarages and churches, but he is not a part of Christianity. He did not like to hear God's name, and he left on Sundays, when the church bells were ringing. But he kept the church nice and clean.

The Forest Nisse is a new variation; he lives in nature , leaving mysterious traces, which cannot be explained. A forest-nisse is small, about 80 cm, he dresses in green and brown.

The Ship-Nisse is another variation, also named the Klabauterman. He can - if he is treated well - predict storms  - and it is wise to listen to his advice.

The Sætternisse = the Misprint Gremlin has existed since the introduction of typography. He loves to smuggle in misprint in books and magazines, and he is able to make them undiscovered in the proofreading. 

The Climbing Nisse is a new tradition, beginning in the 1940s.


There is an old saying that "the nisse is following you".  It is used on many occassions, like if you've got into some trouble - if you think you can just forget it or move away from it, then reemember that "the nisse is following you".  You cannot escape the problems.

He origins from various old tales. There is a tale of a man and his household, who were being teased so much  by their nisse that they had to move. After having loaded the wagon , drawn by oxes, the farmer let the coachman drive slowly ahead and went into the house to see if he had forgotten something. When he came out, he saw the wagon driving slowly down the road with the nisse on top of the load, laughing at him.


copyright grethe bachmann


5 comments:

Wanda..... said...

I hope you are feeling better Grethe. Pneumonia once put me in the hospital for 33 days. That was 16 years ago and I've not been sick since...maybe it was caused by an upset "forest nisse" or "nymph" wanting me to come visit...back then I hardly ever walked deep into our woods, which I started doing just after getting well.

"Nymphs" were revered as the spirits of the forest, they were represented as lonely, and eternally youthful beautiful creatures.

Your posts are some of my favorite to read, Grethe! Have a good week!

Joan said...

It is good to see you back in blogland Grethe. I hope you are fully recovered.

Thyra said...

Hi Wanda and Joan! I'm glad that you like my posts. Thank you. I'm not quite back, I just cannot keep away from you. I have spent a little time today in blog-land. I get abstinenses when I don't know anything!
I need some strength! I feel like I'm 99! Send me some summer from New Zealand, Joan.
Grethe

MyMaracas said...

What a charming post. I love the idea of magical folk living alongside us. Though I think seeing one the size of a ten year old child would be quite alarming.

Hope you are well!

Thyra said...

Hej MyMaracas! Yes I would be scared if I really saw a pixy!
I'm better thank you.
I'm looking for spring like so many others now. I guess you are too.
Grethe `)