Tomten, Tomten Everywhere

These things. Are. Everywhere.

I feel like within the past three to five years I have seen an absolute explosion of items fashioned similarly to the above photo, just chillin around the place as Christmas decorations. And not just for Christmas, either. My workplace’s accountant has one dressed like Uncle Sam on her desk for the Fourth of July and another in black for Halloween. They are inescapable.

And I’m not sure why this of all things is the holiday decor trend for all possible occasions.

According to The Old Magic of Christmas, “[t]here is only room for one tomten in a household, so give the others away”, pg 106. And yet people inexplicably purchase dolls of these creatures in fairly significant numbers. I don’t know if the rules are different for businesses, and I don’t recall any vibes from seeing groups of these dolls, but I always thought it odd that, say, my bosses would keep more than one because they like the way the dolls look.

And while they do have a nice Yuletide vibe (that being half the point), in the States at least they are getting used for all sorts of holidays. I’ve seen 4th of July tomten; wood cutouts of the same that can hold different items; a chef tomte for, as far as I could tell, no discernible reason; and even the odd Halloween variant.

My question is: why?

See, I’ve been paying attention to a fair number of changes to Christmas fare in the past few years. Krampus has gotten more popular, and people seem to be getting tired of the same cheery nonsense every year. The “anti-Christmas” song (such as “The Night Santa Went Crazy” or “Ho Ho F@#$ing Ho”, for example) has been steadily gaining traction for at least a decade. But that’s just in the States. We’re talking at least partially about folkloric icons from parts of Europe that have been knocking around for centuries, with their own lore and context.

In part, I’m sure, the answer is capitalism. Marketers saw the changing trends and thought “this image [tomten] is similar enough to Santa, let’s try that” and have had an utterly indisputable level of success.

But, as with the Gavle Goat that I’ve discussed last year, it’s possible unseen forces are also at play. I joke to myself that the tomten are going to awaken in the night and take over. But, considering the overall fuzziness of the “real world” at this time of year anyways, and increasingly so in recent years, maybe I’m not too far off? Maybe they are taking over?

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