The small «Nisse» with his white beard and red hat belongs to the old Nordic folklore, typically associated with winter and Christmas season. He is known as a figure that stayed in the barn at farms, and secretly acted as the farmers' guardian. He could be very helpful grooming the animals and protecting the farm from misfortune, especially if the farmers treated him well.
The nisse is often imagined as a small elderly man with a big white beard and a red hat, dressed in traditional farmer's garb. The Nordic nisse was originally associated with trees and forest, but as time went by he moved towards farms and wore the clothes of a farmer; wooden shoes, pull-over woolen tunic belted at the waist and knee breeches with stockings. Despite the similarities in looks, he has nothing to do with today's commercial Santa Claus, who is pulled in his sleigh by reindeers and brings presents to kids.
Previously the nisse was not related to Christmas at all,but because people believed he wanted good food on Christmas Eve, he was tied to the Christmas tradition. About a hundred years ago it was quite common to truly believe in the little man with the big beard, and he was a part of the farmers' life. He was usually invisible but some claim to have seen him. It was believed that the nisse was possessed with magical power and immense strength, he was known for having a short temper and being both whimsical and erratic. If he wasn't treated well, he would engage in mischief, such as tying the cows tales together, turning objects upside down, or break things. So it became a tradition for the families to please the nisse with a gift; a bowl of porridge on Christmas Night.
Despite this being an old tradition, on Christmas day families still put out a bowl of porridge with butter and cinnamon for the nisse to eat. Today, the nisse is perceived as nice and romantic. He is the main character in many stories, theater shows and movies, often featured on Christmas cards, Christmas decorations and also used for commercial reasons such as on the Norwegian milk cartons.
Today's modern farms with communal factories and high soils don't really bring the romantic imagination of the nisse sneaking around house corners in the dark. However, if you take some time Christmas Eve, sit down by a snow-heavy spruce, watching the candle lights from a cozy small farmhouse, you will definitely feel like a real, traditional nisse.
1 Change underwear at least once a year
2 Keep dry behind your ears
3 Tell the others a good joke every day
4 It is required to take one spoon of Tran a day (Tran is a healthy drink, which taste quite unpleasant)
5 Don’t heckle the neighbor more than once a month
6 Even if you’re not right, don’t give in
7 Don’t overstrain yourself if it’s not needed
8 A good laughter makes your life longer
9 Save the dollar and let the penny go
10 Be aware of the neighbor not having more than you
11 Be skeptical of any change
12 Stay in shape and lift the horse with one arm twice a day