Leprechauns vs. brownies

Nathaniel Thomas nathanielt at AIRPOST.NET
Tue May 4 15:32:13 UTC 2004

I am much younger, but I think I also was read a similar book, with
such illustrations, about brownies (though it may have had Christmas
connotations).  Anyway, in my early childhood the little people
mentioned in stories and jokingly by my parents would have been gnomes
(not much connection to folkloric beings that help around the house)
and the "tomte".  A tomte is a Scandinavian (possibly specifically
Swedish) creature of folktale that has exactly that job, cleaning
people's houses for milk on saucers.

Not to say that "little people" couldn't be leprechauns, but lots of
cultures have the vaguely harmful beings that do work for a little
reward, but turn nasty if they aren't pleased.  I know a tomte does.
So you could have a Scandinavian connection too.

Nathaniel Thomas
nathanielt at airpost.net

On May 4, 2004, at 10:25 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:

> James A. Landau wrote:
> Putting any liquid in a saucer is likely to have someone
> ask, "Are you leaving it out for the LIttle People [leprechauns]?"
> which suggests there is a long-shot possiblity of an Irish connection.
> FWIW, I recall a fairy tale from my childhood (late '30's-early '40's)
> about so-called "brownies." These were  (bearded male, in
> illustrations) elfin creatures (therefore, also "little people" in the
> "leprechaun" sense) that, in return for, as it happens, a *saucer* of
> milk and a slice of bread, would come into your house at night and
> clean it from top to bottom.

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