In Norway and Denmark, red pointy hats are worn by the nisse. In Sweden they’re worn by the tomte. In Mount Horeb, they’re worn by anyone who wants to join the fun of the Scandihoovian Winter Festival weekend. Festival organizers like the playfulness of the hats and the bond they have come to represent. We’re here to celebrate our community and our heritage.
In Scandinavian legends, the nisse and tomte are mischievous little creatures who watch over homes and farms. If the nisse are treated with respect – and given porridge – all will be well.
In history, the red hats (called “nisselua” in Norwegian) played a role, too. They became a national symbol of resistance during World War II, when Norway was occupied by the Nazis. While anything red, white or blue – the colors of the Norwegian flag – was deemed suspicious, wearing a nisselua was prohibited. Most famous was this Nazi edict from 1942:
“Warning. Red knitted hats. As the use of red hats has increased so strongly in later times, it is considered to be a (protest) demonstration. As of Thursday, 26 February, 1942, the use of red caps is forbidden. From this day the caps will be confiscated from anyone using them, and legal actions will be taken upon these persons. For children under 14 years, their parents or adults will be held responsible.”
The red nisselua survives as a statement of independence and fellowship. As a symbol of the Scandihoovian Festival, the red hat brings a modern opportunity to build community with our neighbors near and far.
We invite you to don a red hat and join us in our fun. You can buy your own red hat at Sjolinds Chocolate House's two locations, The Grumpy Troll, McFee on Main, The Cat and Crow, Bergey Jewelry, Open House Imports and the Mount Horeb Area Welcome Center. Hats are $10 and the money raised goes to support the festival, which is run entirely by volunteers.
Sources: George Hesselberg; Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian Gifts, Minneapolis (www.ingebretsens.com)