It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Are you feeling the Christmas spirit slowly making its way into your home? For some it may be too early yet, and for others the preparations are in full speed ahead. As for myself, I am slowly getting there. I am sort of getting the “itch” in my fingers to draw and illustrate pictures relating to winter and Christmas at around October or so, and I sit down and create some new snowmen or some new characters. And this year is no different really, well the only thing might be that I am a wee bit slower this year, but that is because I have and am busy with a few different things at the moment. But I always try to find some time in between to make some illustrations.

Christmas Carols

This is my most recent illustration, and yet again the theme is winter (of course) and then the snowmen. In this illustration I have been mixing watercolor and acrylics.

I am one of those people that simply love Christmas. Why is that? Well, I think that I love the warm sentiments it is giving, and you get some sort of inner longing. I do have nice memories of Christmas when I was a little girl, and in Sweden we usually had a lot of snow at Christmas time. It was so beautiful when the landscape was covered in a white cover of snow. I remember that when you got outside, it was a lot quieter than usual, if you lived on the country side that is. And as I did, and we spent a lot of time skiing and playing out in the snow for hours and hours and by the time you got inside, our feet were icy cold and it took some time to get warm again. But as a child you didn’t really feel that while you were out there having fun.

In Sweden we have some nice traditions, and there is one that I am going to share with you, it’s a poem written by Viktor Rydberg and it is called “Tomten”. Tomte is the Swedish word for Gnome, and in Sweden we have an old tradition that is almost like a folklore, that there were gnomes living on the farms, helping the farmers look after all the kritters and animals during the night. And the farmers always put out some bread/bisquits and milk for them in the evening and in the morning it was emptied. This poem is read every Christmas in many places, and I remember that the teachers were reading it in school. Anyway, it goes like this:

Deep in the grip of the midwinter cold
The stars glitter and sparkle.
All are asleep on this lonely farm,
Deep in the winter night.
The pale white moon is a wanderer,
snow gleams white on pine and fir,
snow gleams white on the roofs.
The tomte alone is awake.

Gray, he stands by the low barn door,
Gray by the drifted snow,
Gazing, as many winters he’s gazed,
Up at the moon’s chill glow,
Then at the forest where fir and pine
Circle the farm in a dusky line,
Mulling relentlessly
A riddle that has no key.

Rubs his hand through his beard and hair,
Shakes his head and his cap.
“No, that question is much too deep,
I cannot fathom that.”
Then making his mind up in a hurry,
He shrugs away the annoying worry;
Turns at his own command,
Turns to the task at hand.

Goes to the storehouse and toolshop doors,
Checking the locks of all,
While the cows dream on in the cold moon’s light,
Summer dreams in each stall.
And free of harness and whip and rein,
Even Old Pålle dreams again.
The manger he’s drowsing over
Brims with fragrant clover.

The tomte glances at sheep and lambs
Cuddled in quiet rest.
The chickens are next, where the rooster roosts
High above straw filled nests.
Burrowed in straw, hearty and hale,
Karo wakens and wags his tail
As if to say, “Old friend, “Partners we are to the end.”

At last the tomte tiptoes in
To see how the housefolk fare.
He knows full well the strong esteem
They feel for his faithful care.
He tiptoes into the children’s beds,
Silently peers at their tousled heads.
There is no mistaking his pleasure:
These are his greatest treasure.

Long generations has he watched
Father to son to son
Sleeping as babes. But where, he asks,
From where, from where have they come?
Families came, families went,
Blossomed and aged, a lifetime spent,
Then-Where? That riddle again
Unanswered in his brain!

Slowly he turns to the barnyard loft,
His fortress, his home and rest,
High in the mow, in the fragrant hay
Near to the swallow’s nest.
The nest is empty, but in the spring
When birds mid leaves and blossoms sing,
And come with her tiny mate.

Then will she talk of the journey tell.
Twittering to all who hear it,
But nary a hint for the question old
That stirs in the tomte’s spirit.
Now through cracks in the haymow wall
The moon lights tomte and hay and all,
Lights his beard through the chinks,
The tomte ponders and thinks.

Still is the forest and all the land,
Locked in this wintry year.
Only the distant waterfall
Whispers and sighs in his ear.
The tomte listens and, half in dream,
Thinks that he hears Time’s endless stream,
And wonders, where is it bound?
Where is its source to be found?

Deep in the grip of the midwinter cold,
The stars glitter and sparkle.
All are asleep on this lonely farm,
Late in this winter night.
The pale white moon is a wanderer,
snow gleams white on pine and fir,
snow gleams white on the roofs.
The tomte alone is awake.

By: Viktor Ryberg

This is only one of many traditions we have around Christmas, in Sweden. I will share more of our traditions in my next post. And to be totally honest I really like those old traditions. I am not a big fan of that they have commersialized Christmas nowdays. Christmas is not really about “things”, it’s more about being with your family to celebrate isn’t it? Well, having said that it’s not that I do not like getting one christmas present or two, but everything in moderation as someone once said. And I cannot wait to put up the Christmas decorations, I absolutely love all the lights and candles, the ornaments in the Christmas tree, the cute little things etc.

Gnome and Mouse

I will end this post with this little fellow, the Gnome is sitting with his friend the Mouse on a winters day.

~Eva’s Chronicles ~

16 thoughts on “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

  1. Oh my goodness….,I just don’t have words to express our adorable these are and how much I love them. What a marvelous way to celebrate this wonderful time of year. The little snowmen singers…Oh “Joy to the World”. What a special talented artist you are….love your work.

    Happy Thanksgiving…..and Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely little winter scenes! I like the way the acrylic gives the snow some texture. Thank you for sharing some traditions from Sweden, it’s nice to find out how Christmas is done around the world!

    Liked by 1 person

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