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Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

Back in 2010 I made a series of posts from the start of December through to the 24th called “A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse”. It was based on some background work I did for a series of Christmas cards I did donkey’s years ago. Since a lot of regular visitors have turned up on Retrorambling since then, here’s a quick reprise on the series – Ted

We have a strange lingual phenomena in Norway and that is that the fat sod you English speaking people call Santa we call a “nisse” and that would have posted no problem if it wasn’t for the fact that we already had a”nisse” long before St Nicolas started giving presents to poor children somewhere in Germany. It is all a linguistic mishap really, it is because the Swedes called Santa "Nisse" which is a nickname for Niklas and we here in Norway adopted it. The real nisse don’t like this at all. So in order to put things into prospective, I’m going to use December on this blog to let you all take part in my only scientific study “A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse”.

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The Norwegian "Nisse" is a relative of the Brownie, the Pixie and the Leprechaun. He lives in rural districts and in the woods. In Norway we call Santa Clause "nisse" as well, but that fat, jolly, "Ho Ho" chanting lunatic that Coca Cola and other companies that think they have a claim on Christmas love so much must never ever be mistaken for the original. The original "Nisse" has been around for as long as there has been people here in Norway, and he is here all year round.

In the old days people believed that the "nisse" took care of their houses and animals and kept them out of harms way. In rural districts people used to put out porridge for the "nisse", a tradition that is still upheld round Christmas at many farms around the country. The "nisse" could be quite a prankster, so keeping him happy was important. It is a well known fact that if he didn’t get his porridge, he could hide things or rearrange whole rooms or even worse.

In our day and age, the "nisse" has become very shy, as all the products of the silly thing we call progress scares him. Very few people has seen a "nisse" these last hundred years, so as I am one of the few fortunate, I will share my knowledge with you. In "A Study of the Norwegian Nisse" you will meet two, they both live in the woods close to my cottage in Enebakk, some five metric miles from Oslo city. They have never been willing to divulge their names so in lack of better names, I’ve called them Prototype No 1 and Prototype No 2, No 1 and No 2 for short.

All my knowledge stems from these two individuals, so this study may not give a general picture of the "nisse" as such at all. They are after all great pranksters. Pulling your leg is among their favourite past times, so if the picture I’m painting here seems to vary from your opinion of what a "nisse" is and should be, what can I say.

A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 2
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 3
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 4
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 5
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 6
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 7
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 8
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 9
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 10
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 11
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 12
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 13
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 14
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 15
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 16
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 17
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 18
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 19
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 20
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 21
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 22
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 23
A Study Of The Norwegian Nisse–Part 24

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Visiting one another is a great part of "nisse" life. A "nisse" knows any other "nisse" living in his district intimately. He never moves from the district where he is born and he knows where  any other "nisse" in that district lives. He know their names, their age, when they have their birthdays, what they like and dislike and what an appropriated gift when visiting might be. And this goes more than anything for relatives.
They are very social beings and would appreciate any guest at any time. They never invite one another, they just turn up and are welcome when they do. And they do celebrate Christmas of course, if not for the same reason as we do. And then the families gather and here you see my two friends on their way to such midwinter gathering.

Well this was the last from my little friends this year as I will do as them, gather my Christmas presents and take off to be with my family for the next few days. Maybe I’ll let you get a few more glimpses of their lives and doings next Christmas or maybe I’ll find something else to post in December then.

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The woods and the mountains are the natural habitat for a "nisse" and one of his greatest joys is hiking. Like any other sane being living in Norway he loves the smell, the view and the quietness of nature.

A new brewed cup of coffee, a few rashes of bacon on a warm toast or a bowl of hot soup by a lake or a stream, that’s life for you, whether you are "nisse" or a human being.

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The game of "Fell the King" really shows how strong these guys are. The Knights and the King is almost as big as they are and the throwing sticks are the same length as a "nisse". And with a game field 4 x 6 meters, it is a game a human and a "nisse " can play together.

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A Game of "Fell the King" could be made much simpler than this, and it is a very nice outdoor game. I have made my own version of it that can be played both as "Fell the King" and as "Kubb". "Kubb" is a viking game that has become very popular in Scandinavia in recent years. There are even world championships arranged these days.

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My two friends love all kind of games, and they make all of them themselves according to ancient "nisse" tradition. Many of their games stems from mediaeval times, a time when there was a lot more socialising between their world and ours. We humans lived more in tune with nature then, my friends tell me.

Few things are made with so much attention to details and so high a demand on craftsmanship as a "nisse" game. I told my friends about the kind of Croquet games one might buy on petrol station and other places to day, and when I came to the gates the laughed so hard they rolled on the ground. Who would bother to play such an ugly game, they uttered, screaming with laughter. You humans really are stupid.

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Looking at this typical game field one might think a guy 35 cm. high would spend years finishing a game of "Two Towers", but you must remember their strength. Both my two small friends could easily knock the ball clean across the field and half a mile into the woods on the other side. And they posses an accuracy when sending a ball through a gate that most people would envy them.

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A boat like "Dundra" is easily manoeuvred by these strong guys. And how ever much beer they drink on a trip on a lake or river they steer clear of any obstacles unnoticed by us. And if a fish is to large to haul into the boat, they throw it onshore and clean it there. One fish is usually enough, they are not that big, you know. A half pond trout or bass holds several meals to these two.

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This is "Dundra" My two friend’s boat. Not the most gracious of vessels, maybe, but they love it. The boat has all they need, room for a barrel of beer, lamp for night fishing, holders for the beer tankards and a decent binoculars.

A "nisse" does as I have mentioned, find us humans rather ridiculous in shape and form, and they like to spy on us when ever they can. You must remember that they are not bound by the same set of ethics as we are, so spying on us is quite all right in their world. After all, in their eyes we are stupid shortlived creatures, who waste most of the time we’re here.

They find us particularly funny to look at in the nude, so if you should be skinny dipping one nice summer day and think you hear some low sniggering somewhere close by, you know who it is.

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