Joulutonttu – Christmas Elf—ヨウルトントゥ










Joulutonttu’s are Joulupukki’s (Santa’s) little helpers, elves that live with Joulupukki and his wife in Korvatunturi. There are hundreds and hundreds of Joulutonttu’s around in Korvatunturi. Joulutonttu’s are small creatures that wear red clothes and a red pointed hat, and often have a long beard similar to the one of Joulupukki’s. Joulutonttu’s first appeared in the Finnish Christmas beliefs at the end of the 19th Century.

One of the most important tasks of Joulutonttu’s is peeking through windows to see if all the children are behaving well. The quickest and the smallest Joulutonttu’s are chosen for this important task – all observation of children must be done secretly, because children should never see any Joulutonttu’s moving around. Then Joulutonttu’s write down the true status of children’s behaviors in a huge notebook, which is then presented for Joulupukki himself. Mothers often remind their children to be careful with their behaviors – to brush their teeth, to do their homework, and to help others – in case a Joulutonttu is watching.

The other important tasks of Joulutonttu’s include reading all of the letters that children send to Joulupukki from all over the world. Joulutonttu’s then record the wishes of each child in a huge book. The Joulutonttu’s are very good at languages too, because they must be able to read letters written in many foreign languages. Joulutonttu’s work hard all year long, from January to December, to make all the gifts for all the children around the world according to their wishes. Joulutonttu’s are multitalented too -– they are very good carpenters, mechanics, painters, weavers, and printers for example. When Christmas Eve is coming closer, Joulutonttu’s wrap all the gifts and prepare them for each household.

There are other kinds of Tonttu’s in Finland too, not only Joulutonttu’s (Christmas Elves). Many countryside households had their own Tonttu’s, whose job was to protect the land and the crop of the farmer. Some Finnish farmers believed that if one did not take care of the land properly, or forgot to leave food for Tonttu’s on the porch, the Tonttu’s could destroy the crop. There is also a Saunatonttu, a Tonttu that lives in Sauna, who is known to be a small and kind-hearted creature that comes to enjoy sauna’s warmth after all the people have left.

Sources: Mauri Kunnas: Santa Claus. Wikipedia. Tunturisuden joulusivut.