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tomte/gubbe

English translation: Tomten (with a capital "T") means "the" Santa Claus or "Jultomten"...

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
Swedish term or phrase:tomten/Santa
English translation:Tomten (with a capital "T") means "the" Santa Claus or "Jultomten"...
Entered by: Paula Ibbotson
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04:25 Dec 21, 2002
Swedish to English translations [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary
Swedish term or phrase: tomte/gubbe
I'd like to know what is the difference between these two... Aren't 'gubbe' little men in red hats, and the name 'jordgubbar' for strawberries comes from those hats? Someone asked me how to say "Santa Claus" in Swedish. I checked the dictionary, but does the word 'jultomte' carry the same image of a big guy in a red suit that "Santa Claus" does, or is it more an image of a smaller Christmas troll?
Jo
Tomten (with a capital "T") means "the" Santa Claus or "Jultomten"...
Explanation:
To answer your specific questions:

First, in Sweden the word "tomte" is everywhere I find. As a Canadian, we have Santa, and perhaps some distinctly different elves, but that's it. In Sweden, the holiday season begins as early as December 13th with their Lucia tradition. Lucia comes with "tomtar" or "lusse-gubbar" eg. little elves. As well, there are "tre gubbar, tre gubbar från Pepparkakeland"...

Literally:
gubbe gubben gubbar subst.
gammal man, gamling (vardagligt även om man i allmänhet)

means: old man, fellow (in English)

As for the Strawberry link, the word "jordgubbe" is a swedish "dialect" word that has existed since 1841:

Jordgubbe=svenskt dialektalt ord (sedan 1841), gubbe i betydelsen liten klump
(Källa Nationalencyklopediens ordbok).
http://www2.malmo.stadsbibliotek.org/bibliotekarie-direkt/sv...

Little Strawberry history, etc.
members.tripod.com/catnappe/jordgubbe.html

As for Christmas "Day" (which incidentally is celebrated Dec. 24th here and not the 25th as in North America), often a member of the family actually dresses up as Santa and comes to the house. At our place, they did not cry out with glee for "Jultomten", but would rather just say "Tomten" (somehow knowing that despite all the tomtar/gubbar out there, this was THE one!!).

As for your question about the smaller Christmas trolls eg. elves, these would definately be tomtenissar or nissar!
Selected response from:

Paula Ibbotson
Canada
Local time: 09:36
Grading comment
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
5 +2Santa Claus
Nina Engberg
5 +1Santa vs. the farm guardian
Mario Marcolin
4 +1Tomten (with a capital "T") means "the" Santa Claus or "Jultomten"...
Paula Ibbotson
3 -1Christmas Elf
Arthur Borges


  

Answers


19 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +2
Santa Claus


Explanation:
Jultomten = Santa Claus

Jultomten, the Swedish Santa, has elfin helpers called tomtar

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-12-21 04:47:55 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Children in Sweden look forward on Christmas Eve to gifts brought by Jultomten (today a cross between a little gnome and the German/British Santa Klaus). They make sure to leave him a bowl of porridge. They also put candles in the windows so he can find his way to the children\'s homes.

See: http://www.honorpub.com/scout-e-zine/vol03/sez_v3_14.htm


    Reference: http://www.answerpoint.org/columns2.asp?column_id=387&column...
Nina Engberg
Local time: 07:36
Native speaker of: Swedish
PRO pts in pair: 124

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  ADDAM Translations
1 hr

neutral  Anette Herbert: the helpers are called "tomtenissar"
3 hrs

agree  EKM: Yes, "tomtenissar", or just "nissar". And I have never heard that the candles we put in our windows are for Santa to find his way to our houses... It's just bl**dy dark, that's all, so to make it less miserable... :-)
7 hrs
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8 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
Santa vs. the farm guardian


Explanation:
"Jultomten is the Swedish version of the figure who, in most European countries, gives the children their Christmas presents: St Nicholas. Before he came to Sweden, the task of handing out presents was performed by the Christmas goat, but in the 1870s the old saint became so well known in Sweden, through the influx of German Christmas decorations, that he could no longer be resisted. He quickly eliminated the Christmas goat from the Yuletide awareness of the Swedes, for in this country he acquired a new name, borrowed from a figure of Swedish rural superstition. Tomten - the brownie or lubberfiend - was a dwarfish guardian of the farm, not particularly associated with Christmas or Christmas gifts, except that a bowl of porridge would be put out for him on Christmas night. But after a well-known artist, Jenny Nyström had, in thousands of Christmas pictures from the 1880s onwards, given jultomten a Swedish profile of his own, tying in with the notional appearance of tomten, he quckly became the paramount symbol of the Swedish Christmas. There is one difference between the Swedish jultomten and his Continental colleagues: whereas the latter, in the sensory world, are mainly confined to department stores and Christmas shopping malls, in Sweden an adult member of the family or a "chartered" neighbour dresses up as tomten and tries to make himself (or herself) unrecognizable to the children when, with his sack over his shoulder, he bangs on the door and asks the customary opening question: "Are there any good children here?"
This article (see link) by Jan-Öjvind Swahn, a well-known authority on Swedish lore, is hereby recommended.


    Reference: http://www.christmasmagazine.com/english/spirit/xmas_sweden0...
Mario Marcolin
Sweden
Local time: 15:36
Native speaker of: Native in SwedishSwedish, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 249

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Paula Ibbotson: This is also a nice reference!
14 hrs
  -> merci
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9 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): -1
Christmas Elf


Explanation:
How about just calling it a Xmas Elf -- One of the things I loved about discovering the "jultomten" is his small size. Apart from the fact that it looks even more credible to a kid if there's is more than one guy distributing gifts one night, it should connect with Nordic tradition that it is the home's own guardian elf who delivers the presents (i.e. attracts good luck, sympbolically).
There is an exact equivalent to the "tomte" in China, where it is called the "local/home/temple guardian (spirit)." Thus, you see altars on the floor or ground outside shops and homes to make offerings (as opposed to the altar above eye level which is to the Buddha, Confucius and other divinities.

Arthur Borges
China
Local time: 21:36
PRO pts in pair: 83

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  Mario Marcolin: Yes, and in Lithuania there is a creature called "aitvaras". But let's keep Xmas and folklore apart, please!
1 day51 mins
  -> Well, I know nothing about altvaras, but it's a choice whether you want to view the development of human awareness llike that of language, i.e. as a continuous process where one unfolds into the next level, or one floor built upon the previous one. Or not
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22 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
Tomten (with a capital "T") means "the" Santa Claus or "Jultomten"...


Explanation:
To answer your specific questions:

First, in Sweden the word "tomte" is everywhere I find. As a Canadian, we have Santa, and perhaps some distinctly different elves, but that's it. In Sweden, the holiday season begins as early as December 13th with their Lucia tradition. Lucia comes with "tomtar" or "lusse-gubbar" eg. little elves. As well, there are "tre gubbar, tre gubbar från Pepparkakeland"...

Literally:
gubbe gubben gubbar subst.
gammal man, gamling (vardagligt även om man i allmänhet)

means: old man, fellow (in English)

As for the Strawberry link, the word "jordgubbe" is a swedish "dialect" word that has existed since 1841:

Jordgubbe=svenskt dialektalt ord (sedan 1841), gubbe i betydelsen liten klump
(Källa Nationalencyklopediens ordbok).
http://www2.malmo.stadsbibliotek.org/bibliotekarie-direkt/sv...

Little Strawberry history, etc.
members.tripod.com/catnappe/jordgubbe.html

As for Christmas "Day" (which incidentally is celebrated Dec. 24th here and not the 25th as in North America), often a member of the family actually dresses up as Santa and comes to the house. At our place, they did not cry out with glee for "Jultomten", but would rather just say "Tomten" (somehow knowing that despite all the tomtar/gubbar out there, this was THE one!!).

As for your question about the smaller Christmas trolls eg. elves, these would definately be tomtenissar or nissar!

Paula Ibbotson
Canada
Local time: 09:36
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 65

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Mario Marcolin: since there is only one Santa, but many tomtar
11 hrs
  -> Yep! And Merry Christmas Mario. Hope Tomten is good to you! Cheers;)
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