The Legend of the Nisse

Far away, in the small mountainous country of Norway, there live a variety of creatures known in Nordic folklore as trolls. These trolls, and their numerous relations, come in all shapes and sizes, from the big ugly mountain trolls, to the small elflike “Nisse”.

For the most part, they make their homes in the jagged, pine-covered mountains, and spend their days wandering through the beautiful still valleys, surrounded by dark pine trees with only the sound of the wind and the little tumbling streams. Unlike most trolls, which prefer to spend their days with little human contact, “Nisse” has a special place as an unseen helper in the home.

At Christmas time, Norwegians offer some small tokens of recognition and affection to the Nisse to show that they are accepted as they are—not outwardly beautiful but faithful in all their ways. In return, the Nisse takes good care of the family in the coming year.
Background is a portion of a drawing by Theodor Kittelsen,
From Digermulen in Raftsund, Lofoten, Probably year 1888.
Photo: Ivarsøy, Day Two / Nasjonalmuseet in Norway
National Museum License.