The Moomin family consists of the ever-curious Moomin, the calm Moominmamma and the self-centred Moominpappa, who all live together in the idyll of Moominvalley, in a tall, cylinder-shaped house that Moominpappa built with his own hands many years ago. The family live a tranquil and happy life, but sometimes Moomin and his father feel the need for travel and adventure, despite the fact that the valley is constantly threatened by different natural disasters. During winter, the Moomin family go into hibernation according to tradition: a tradition which Moomin breaks in the book Moominland Midwinter.
Among Moominvalley’s residents are the timid Sniff, the mischievous and uncompromising Little My, the vagabond and freedom-loving Snufkin, Moomin’s girlfriend Snork Maiden, the inflexible Hemulen and anxiety-ridden Mrs Fillyjonk. Moominvalley is a fairytale-accented fantasy world where although the characters are of course not human, they become that much more lifelike due to their distinctive personalities. They often strive to find a meaning, maybe not with life, but with life as it is just then. Moomin, for example, can feel a sense of wonder at simple things, such as collecting beautiful pebbles or seashells. Moominvalley is demarcated to the east by the great mountain range of the Lonely Mountains, which is often portrayed as an unknown and a somewhat scary place. A constant threat to the inhabitants of this otherwise safe valley is the chilling monster The Groke, with whom it is difficult to communicate and who freezes the ground wherever she moves. Other ominous creatures, but who are usually harmless, include The Hattifatteners.
In 1943, Tove Jansson drew a character named Snork for the Swedish-Finnish satirical magazine Garm: this was the first incarnation of the Moomintroll. The creature in the early versions was all black with an open mouth and red eyes, inspired by the “the horrors of the war years” with a narrow nose that almost resembled a beak. In 1945, Jansson transposed the figure to the first Moomin book: “The Moomins and the Great Flood”. Going by the new name of Moomintroll, the figure also took on a new, less troubling appearance: a thicker, white body and a hippopotamus-like nose.
Critics have suggested that some of the characters in the Moomin universe were inspired by real people, often the author’s close family members. Tove Jansson has in interviews openly spoken about the background and possible models for her characters. Tove Jansson's life partner was the graphic artist, Tuulikki Pietilä, whose personality inspired the character Too-Ticky in Moominland Midwinter. Moomin and Little My have been seen as psychological self-portraits. In general, the Moomins strongly correlate with Jansson's own family: they had a bohemian lifestyle, lived close to nature and showed a high degree of tolerance. Moominmamma and Moominpappa are often seen as portraits of Jansson's parents Signe Hammarsten-Jansson and Viktor Jansson. Many of Jansson's characters could be described as almost melancholy, for example, the ever-formal Hemulen or the peculiar Hattifatteners who wander from place to place in somewhat sinister groups. Jansson uses the difference between the characters’ philosophies to create an arena for her satirical drive. The author Alison Lurie has described the Groke as a wandering likeness of Nordic gloom: everyone she touches dies, and wherever she moves the ground freezes under her feet.
The books about the Moomin family are difficult to place in a single category since they differ from book to book: some are light-hearted adventures, others are more dramatic. It has also been discussed whether the books are really children's books at all. Whatever your point of view, it is generally agreed that the protagonist, Moomin, grows with the books: the first four books can be categorized as children's books and the subsequent volumes for older readers.
The Moomin stories have a strong humanistic message: the books offer flashes of insight and observations about the world and the different paths life can offer. A good example is Snufkin's view on freedom: "You are never really free if you admire someone too much".
Moomin Winter at NK enchanted both old and young
In December 2011, Stockholm’s premier department store, NK, was transformed into a Moomin world.
A fairytale experience, which included the exhibition Story Meets Reality, readings of Tove Jansson's beloved classics, and fun competitions for younger children. For those looking for Christmas presents, there were plenty of Moomin products for all ages. The event, which also included an invitation-only champagne breakfast, attracted over 10,000 curious visitors during the week.- This was a wonderful opportunity for us to invite people to the storybook world of Moomin that is loved by so many people around the world. By showcasing our design collaborations, we also www.facebook.com/pages/Moomin