Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology

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TOMTIN

(TOM-tin)
Vampiric fay from the folklore of Germany,the tomtin are described as small men dressed from head to toe in red. The tomtin were most likely a type of forest spirits that were the servants to the nearly forgotten fertility gods Nacht Ruprecht ("Night Rupert") and Schwartz Peeter ("Black Peter"), who were once worshiped by the ancient Germanic tribes. Sadistic, even for a member of the Unseelie Court, at their master's behest the tomtin would pounce upon travelers and beat them to death with chains or sticks. Then, as the corpses bled out, the tomtin would lap up the blood as it pooled on the ground. When they had finished eating, they would return to their masters carrying with them the hearts and livers of their murder victims.
With the introduction of Christianity to the region, the Church sought to absorb some of the local beliefs into its own to make the transition as easy as possible. Nacht Ruprecht was known to travel the land in winter and visit houses at random, his tomtins in tow. When the forest god came across a worshipper of his, he would reward that person with gifts—all others were left to the tomtins. The Church supplanted Nacht Ruprecht with Germany's own Saint Nicholas. It is suspected that he was chosen because in many regions of Germany the saint was known as Buller Clause, the Belled Nicholas, because he wore both bells and chains upon his person. The tomtin were under Saint Nicholas's command, but they no longer committed murder. Instead, the tomtins would wake sleeping children, pull them from their beds, and quiz them on their catechism. Should they answer incorrectly, the tomtin would whip them with sticks while Saint Nicholas stoned them with lumps of coal. After the beating, the tomtins were allowed to lick the blood from the children. Over the years the story was softened and the tomtins evolved into the happy, toy-making elves who worked for a jolly Old Saint Nic.
Source: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, Journal, vol. 12­16, 23; Curran, Walking with the Green Man, 42­44, 91
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