Last weekend, Frances Garrood posted a photo of a knitted crib. In a comment to her post I mentioned that my mum used to knit little dolls for Christmas fairs in the village where my parents lived in their retirement years. But mum's were not crib figures, but little (Christmas) gnomes (Swedish: sing. tomte/pl. tomtar).
The 'tomte' of Scandinavian folklore is a small creature reminding of British brownies or hobs. Later on (late 1800s/early 1900s), the old stories about 'tomtar' got blended with St Nicholaous and Father Christmas traditions from Europe, England and America, to become Jultomten. We still sort of live with both kinds, though - both in Christmas decorations and songs and stories. Hard to tell these days really, whether there is just one tomte (with helpers) or many of the same kind; whether they live under the floor, or in cabins deep in the woods, or at the North Pole; and whether they prefer horses or flying reindeer. (I suppose that's part of their magic - to keep us guessing...)
All I know for sure is that this particular little family used to live in a wardrobe in my parents' house (most of the year), and spent their Christmas vacations on my mum's bedside table. Nowadays they live in my storage room in the basement; and spend Christmas on a shelf in my living room. (They're about the size of my hand.)