The truth behind 'Tomten'


For almost thirty years, UID has had its own little Santa Claus. We spoke to its maker about the birth of 'Tomten'.

The birth of a tradition is rarely deliberate. This is certainly true of the UID 'Tomten' figurine. The Santa-like little plastic thingy that you will find perched on shelves and desks all around UID was and still is a valuable educational tool. Yet, it's mild resemblance to Santa Claus was enough to give it a purpose beyond learning, namely spreading Christmas cheer. We caught up with its creator Kalle Bergstedt, who used to run the workshop, some thirty years later.


What is the story behind the Santa figurine? 

"When we started the school in -89, Bengt Palmgren told me that we had to teach students how to use the machines in the workshop that was being put together. I asked him "how are we going to do that?". He just told me to "make something up", shrugged his shoulders and walked out. I was left scratching my head, a bit confused.

"But after some time, contemplating, I came up with this little figurine-like creature. I think it became a success because it has a lot of good educational parts, involving techniques from all the machines in the workshop, wrapped up in one small object. All students who have completed a programme at UID have made one.

How does it feel that all students passing through UID have a personal connection to the little Santa?

 "It's amazing, a lot of fun actually. In my mind, at that time, I just tried to solve a problem in the moment. It's the students that later named it Santa and it became this tradition. Once, they actually made a large replica of it that is still on display somewhere at UID.

December 2017