(Image: Kittlesen, “Dobbin and the Goblin”)

A Nisse, also known as a farm spirit, is a Norwegian troll that lives at a farm. It does work for the owners of the farm, such as feeding the horses or cleaning up after meals, but it requires that it be given a bowl of porridge with butter, or Rømmegrøt, each night as its pay. If the Nisse does not receive butter on the porridge, it begins to sabotage the farm, letting animals loose, throwing away grain, and sometimes even killing animals (Asala 118). However, the Nisse can also be bribed with sugar in his porridge to do a better job than normal (Asala 117-118). Despite being such a hard worker, the Nisse is also a thief and trickster. He sometimes steals from other farms to make up for his attack on his landlord’s livelihood after being given no butter and often takes time off from his work to play pranks on the household (Asala 119-120).

The Nisse exists in Norwegian folklore to explain the chores and pranks that seem to get done without anyone knowing, such as pranks that seem to get done without anyone knowing, such as one’s hair getting knotted or a mess left in the kitchen. Also, the Nisse is used to explain both negative and positive unexpected events, such as the death of a prize cow or a surprisingly large grain harvest.


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