Cafe Primrose

Handmade Norwegian Nutcracker Nisse

Posted on December 17, 2012

As anyone who reads this blog knows I love to create things and chronicle them. From food to crafts to travel to homemaking I tend to do it all…. I love art and I love crafts and I adore cultural traditional arts and crafts and I really enjoy writing about my experiences with them in addition to writing about my own goings on. Some years ago, a friend of mine, Gunn, in Norway, sent me the most beautiful little nutcracker. Soon as I saw it I was in love. It has an adorable little red cap and of course a long beard.  It is carved from a  piece of wood. Completely beautiful. The detail is exquisite. He is just divine. My friend, who also flew from Norway, to Boston for my wedding some years back, told me that it was made by hand by her grandfather who had been a goat farmer in the Norwegian countryside.

Nisse nutcracker from Norway made by Anders Aasen on a farm. Beautifully detailed and hand carved.

Anders Åsen, the father of eight lived on  Åsen farm in Norway. He was according my friend, a quiet man who loved his family and farming very much. When not working the farm he enjoyed walking in the Norwegian mountains and playing his accordion. His favorite time to play was when he had an audience especially one that would dance to his music. And in the quiet hours of what I imagine to be evening in the summer outside on the porch or by the fireside in winter, he would sit carving wood making little animal figurines and little nutcracker nisse (elves in Norwegian) like the beautiful one my friend gifted to me.  Though the making of these Nisse nutcrackers was just a hobby in his old age, for a time in his younger years the artistic carvings that he did were a bit more for him than that. He used to make them for months and months then box them and send them down to the south of Norway where they would be sold.

Norwegian nisse nutcracker with his mouth open full body shot.

Not so very long after the one that he made for me, he passed away. He and his work were and remain much loved. The Christmas nisse nutcrackers he made by hand have traveled… All over the world. The one with  me has been just about everywhere over the last few years and at the present it makes it’s home as far from Norway as Boston Massachusetts. I cherish this little nutcracker and I wonder what Anders Åsen, would make of how far it has traveled. I hope it would make him proud. I hope too that it would thrill his heart to know just how much I treasure this little nisse, it simply isn’t Christmas time till I have brought him out and placed him in a position of honor. This year he sits presiding over my glogi glasses and as of tomorrow he will have his very own little bowl of nuts.  Not only did Anders Åsen, produce and leave an amazing legacy of  beautiful wooden art, his eight kids produced at least a couple really wonderful children who I am so very happy to call my friends. Merry Christmas Norway, and to all my Norwegian friends especially! Elsker fra Boston!

6 comments so far, have your say too!

  1. Ingrid Floyd

    How much is the nutcracker? Also willing to buy used nutcracker? and shipping to Baltimore?

    • Hi Ingrid, This nut cracker was given to me by a very good friend. It isn’t for sale. There is no quantity of money that I would give it up for. However, I will have a word with the friend who gave it to me and see if there are any more and if the family of the man who hand carved this one would let one go and if so for how much. But I am afraid this one is worth more to me than any amount of money. When I look at it, I see one of my closest friends smiling at me from Norway. And I couldn’t part with something so precious as the love of a good friend. But I will look into the matter for you and see what I can find out.

  2. Julie

    Hello – I wanted to tell you that I picked up one of these at a local thriftstore recently – what a cutie :) Thank you for the information you have provided, very interesting.

    • Anytime glad to help and glad you found a lovely one. :) Christmas just isn’t christmas without a nut cracker. :) And Glogi…. Christmas isn’t christmas without Glogi either….. :)

  3. Sally Comins

    Good day, I am so glad I found your post. My daughter, Kyra, who is 11 years old, has just bought an identical nutcracker from an antique shop in the Drakensberg mountains in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. She spent most of her savings for this little nutcracker that she fell in love with, and all the lady told us was that she thought it was Swedish. I am so glad that we now know the story behind who carved it so that I can tell her about her precious gem she found. I only wonder how it found it’s way to South Africa.

    • Hi sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. We have been going through another long drawn out chaos move. The last one. But I am back! Interesting that a similar nut cracker has turned up there! I don’t know that it is made by the same person but I suppose that is not impossible. All over Scandinavia, they have this “character.” In Finland they call this nisse, joulupukki. Sweden and even Iceland have their own variations. :) All have a similar appearance. But yes, many of the people who once made these sorts of hand carved christmas treasures lived the old scandinavian life style in one country in Scandinavia or another. :) I am glad my story had meaning for you. I hope it is made by the same man, and I hope your daughter treasures it always.

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