Every kid knows that Santa has helpers. Little creatures that do the stuff Santa doesn’t have time to do when he’s busy making presents. These little creatures move into your home in December and help spread the Christmas cheer. In the USA you find the elf on the shelf, as an example.
But here in Denmark we have Nissen.
Nissen is old, very very old, and you can find old stories about Nissen dating way back. He didn’t use to be a Christmas creature, but could be found on farms all year round. If you didn’t treat Nissen right he would give you trouble. He could make your livestock sick or make all your grain uneatable. So farmers would put out porridge for Nissen, and no one would talk bad about him.
Some of these traditions have survived to this day, and even though Nissen is now mostly a helper of Santa, we still leave porridge for him at Christmas (and a Christmas beer) and we still pay him respect.
Of course, we had a Nisse in our family when I was a kid, and when I got kids myself, a new Nisse moved into my home to help make December extra special for my kids too.
In my house Nissen wakes up the night before December 1st. Our Nisse is a she, and she is very nice.
She will decorate the whole house that first night, so when the kids wake up in the morning, Christmas has arrived.
And the 24 days to Christmas (We celebrate Christmas on December 24th – there will be a post about that later) Nissen leaves little treats for the kids.
Here in our home, the rule is that you have to find Nissen before you can check your Christmas stockings. Sometimes Nissen sits somewhere obvious, and sometimes Nissen have hidden away and you can only see the top of her red hat.
Of course, Nissen can make trouble too. One time she colored the milk blue. And she often eat cookies the kids leave for her, and leaves a mess of crumbs. She’s also decorated the Christmas tree with socks, and hung their shoes in the lamps. And sometimes she writes them little letters.
It’s a nice tradition, and one I hope will continue for generations to come.
Do you have any fun little traditions where you live?