Meet Julenisse, The Norwegian Santa

Typically, people believe that Santa lives in one of the Northern Scandinavian countries, as a matter of fact, you’ve probably heard he lives in Lapland. But despite his home being so close, Santa Claus is not a common Christmas icon in Norway. That honour goes to Julenisse.

In Scandinavian folklore, a Nisse or “Tomte” is a short creature with a long white beard. They look like gnomes. The most distinctive things about Nisse are their red pointed hats, their love of looking after animals, their love of practical jokes and that they help the families they live with if treated with love and respect. All they ask for is a bowl of porridge and a glass of glogg each night. But they will become mischievious with the family if they are not treated well.

“Julenisse” means the gift-bearing Nisse at Christmas time. In the 1840’s the farm’s Nisse became the bearer of Christmas presents in Scandinavia, and was then called “Julenisse” and has been associated with Christmas ever since.

The Norwegian “Julenisse”, the Swedish “Jultomte”, the Danish “Julemand” and the Finnish “Joulupukki” still has features and traditions that are rooted in the local culture but he doesn’t necessarily retreat to the North Pole. He lives in a forest, field or stream nearby. He or she, doesn’t come down the chimney on Christmas night, but arrives through the front door, delivering the presents directly to their household friends.

Here is my version of Julenisse and his Nisse sidekick. Julenisse is loaded with toys, books and some essentials of flour and sugar, fruit and berries. Nisse carries some coal as well, just in case some children didn’t fulfill all their chores around the farm.

Handsculpted from Sculpey’s Living Doll polymer clay, he stands 25″ tall on a 10 x 10″ base. Julenisse is dressed in faux sheepskin, sueded pants and wool sweater. His boots are made from suede leather and his beard is made from Tibetan lamb. He carries hand-crafted snow shoes on his back to help him make his way out of the forest. His piercing blue eyes sparkle with happiness and goodwill.

Nisse on the other hand wears a blue velvet tunic and leather belt and his signature red pointed hat. He wears suede boots and carries a suede bag of goodies with a few pieces of coal as a reminder to children to be good.

Check out Julenisse and some of my other original Christmas sculptures at

About mariasaracino

Figurative Artist
This entry was posted in Art, Art Awards, art classes, art conference, Art Connection Summit, art convention, Art Dolls, art exhibits, art instructors, Art shows, art shows in ottawa, Artists, Christmas, Christmas Elf, Elf, Elves, Figurative Art, Maria Saracino, Mother Christmas, Mother's Day Gifts, Mrs. Claus, Orange Art Gallery, ottawa, ottawa art scene, Perth, ON, polyform products, polymer clay, portrait commissions, Santa's Elf, sculpey, Sculpting Workshops, sculpture, Studio 87, Vingettes, Workshops, Workshops and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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