On the 7th Day of Christmas… I’m going to show you how to make a cute Danish Nisse out of cedar logs. This craft has become quite popular and is often referred to as “Santa Logs”.
See all 12 Christmas projects HERE
My mother-in-law is from Denmark and hubby and I were lucky enough to take the kids there to visit a few summers back. Here’s a picture from our trip. That’s hubby (blue shirt), his uncle, and cousin (yellow shirt), and his cousin’s family. Smart Jr is in the pink shirt and there’s my little Lulu when she was two.
Background on the Nisse
Over the years I’ve learned a little about Danish Christmas traditions and hubby and I were happy we to make my in-laws these cute Nisser for Christmas. My brother’s in-laws got one too! What the heck is a Nisse, you ask? The Nisse (pronounced nissa) is a mythical creature of Scandinavian Folklore and differs from the American Santa Claus. Instead, “nisser” are elves or gnomes with long colorful hats. While the name “Nisse” probably derives from St. Nicholas, these old figures are believed to exist long before the birth of Christ. The Nisse associated specifically with Christmas is “Julenisse” (Yule Nisse), who looks pretty much like Santa Claus. The “Julenissen” bring presents to all the nice children on Christmas Eve. But they are not as shy as Santa Claus, and deliver the presents themselves, they don’t come down the chimney in the middle of the night.
So remember Nisser ≠ Santa
These two bigger Nisser hang out on our staircase platform and we have a small Nisse that sits near our kitchen window. The little one is kind of like Elf on the Shelf, but not as high maintenance because you can touch him and play with him. Thank goodness! According to my MIL the regular Nisse (or Tomte in Sweden) stays with the family year-round and can be quite mischievous. He can be known to break things or turn milk sour. Huh, now I know how that stuff happens.It’s a good idea to bribe the Julenisse, especially if you’ve been bad, by making his favorite Risengrød (rice porridge).
Our family begins every Christmas Eve meal by eating rice pudding at my in-laws. Everyone loves it! My MIL hides an almond in the pudding and whomever finds the almond in their bowl gets a prize. She does want me to point out that the pudding is not the same as porridge, but whatever it is it’s delicious! And it’s a tradition my kids love.
How to Make Wooden Santa Logs (Nisser):
Cut logs to length (whatever length you choose) and then slice one end at a diagonal. I used cedar logs because I had them, but there’s no reason you can’t experiment with other wood species.
Paint the top 1/4 red and the bottom 1/2 white.
Add eyes. I just did a black dot of paint, but you could do googly eyes or something else.
Add a nose. I used flesh-colored pompoms for one set and white on the other, but a red nose would look cute too.
Tie a pretty ribbon around them. My ribbon was recycled from my mom’s Christmas gifts the year before.
You can do one santa log (Nisse) by himself.
Or group the santa logs together for an even greater impact.
Be sure to pin it for later!
Happy New Year everyone! Our tree is coming down tomorrow. 🙂
Be sure to check out these other Christmas crafts: