Folk Tales and Traditions

Work with folk tales and traditions in Nationalmuseum's collections. Use our material with tutorial guides, exercises and pictures för Swedish teachers and pupils abroad.

Gnomes, trolls and mythical creatures of nature seem to have a lasting ability to fascinate and entertain. This is evident also in fantasy literature, which is full of witches, wizards, trolls, dwarves, elves and giants in magical adventures and alternative worlds.

A folk tale is an imaginative, made-up story that has been passed down orally from generation to generation. A fictitious dream world, independent of time and space, where good conquers evil.

In the late 19th century, Sweden’s towns and countryside were going through great changes. Society was rapidly being modernised. Many people moved from the country to work in large factories in the towns. There were also those who began working to protect rural culture. Traditions, folk customs and the national character were seen as something worth preserving. Both Nationalmuseum (1866) and Skansen (1891) were founded during this period.

In the decades around the turn of the previous century, national romanticism dominated Swedish literature, art, architecture and music. Artists who had studied in Paris began painting the Swedish countryside and rural life. Norse myths and the old folktales were also popular subjects in the striving to find and portray the national spirit. The mythical creatures of Swedish folklore also appeared in art, and many of the old folktales were collected and written down.

Folk Tales and Traditions as a learning resource

The Folk Tales & Traditions theme can be used as a starting-point for discussions about national identity and traditions, but also in connection with studies of Swedish poetry/literature.

This theme's paintings

Four illustrations in this folder are connected to the theme: The Water Sprite by Ernst Josephson, Fairy Dance by August Malmström, The Princess and the Trolls by John Bauer, and Midsummer Dance by Anders Zorn.

Picture: The Water Sprite, Ernst Josephson

The Water Sprite, Ernst Josephson

Teacher's guide and pictures

Each theme is accompanied by a teacher's guide with facts, exercises and pictures. There is also an illustration folder. The images can be printed out in A4 format or shown in the classroom, for instance by using an LCD projector. You will also find a separate illustration folder containing the images from all four themes.

pdf Teacher's guide
ikon power point Pictures, Folk Tales and Traditions  theme
ikon power point All pictures


The production of this educational material was made possible thanks to generous funding from SWEA.



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