THE AVENUE OF TROLLS, NISSAR AND TOMTAR
Deep down in our minds and imagination, lives the need for little people. They may be there to protect us, to scare us, or to just walk with us and be a companion. We have trolls, nissar, tomtar, gnomes, leprechauns, or bogeymen. They are found in most cultures.
As a child, my Uncle Iver told me that I had been born on Bear Island in Leech Lake at Brevik, Minnesota. I was born with a tail.
When questioned where it was, he informed me that Doctor Ringle, the doctor who delivered me, had cut it off and put it in formaldehyde, and it now sat on a shelf in his office.
As a small child, I accepted that story. Years later I asked him if the idea for this story had come from our Norwegian culture. His reply was that he had no idea where it came from other than his imagination. This just re-enforces my belief that it is in our DNA to have little people around us.
If you have ever laid on your back and watched the clouds roll by, your imagination will work overtime. How many “things” can you see? Now if you live in Scandinavia and are surrounded by mountains, hills, and fjords, won’t this be a natural place to see scraggy trolls lurking everywhere?
In Scandinavian culture, scare tactics were used to keep children safe. “Don’t go near the water, the trolls will get you”. “Don’t go into the woods, the trolls will get you”. “Don’t walk in the dark, the trolls will get you”. Children responded to “little people” being in charge quicker than adults. Over the years legends of the trolls have been passed from one generation to the next, each adding a personal spin to the story.
Trolls can take on the look of scraggly old men or young boys. They can be young children or women of all ages. Trolls are everywhere. On the Avenue of Trolls is a grassy medium. I have been told that the Jette live under the grass. Here they protect the small insects and animals that live under the ground. Most male trolls have a tail. Most females do not. Of course, a real troll has only four toes on each foot and four fingers on each hand. Be careful when someone gives you a troll. Count their toes and fingers to be sure it is a real one!
On Christmas Eve you must not forget to set out a bowl of rice porridge in a wooden bowl with a wooden spoon for the Christmas Nisse/Tomten. It has been said that they detest metals and insist that their spoon be of carved of wood.
On Christmas morning, if the porridge is gone, it means he will stay around for another year to be an invisible guardian spirit, watching over the prosperity and safety of the family. He is small like a child, has an old man’s face, a white beard, and is dressed in red clothes, and wears a red hat. He is not interested in receiving gifts but is more concerned about the family he lives with.
Watch for the little people in our culture!! They are everywhere including the “Avenue of Trolls” located at 1617 Avenue K in Plano, Texas in The Wooden Spoon.
Gwen Welk Workman, May 26, 2009