Moomins are the beloved fairy tale characters created by the Finnish author and illustrator Tove Jansson (1914–2001). The Moomin books tell the story of the Moomin family who share many kinds of adventures with their various friends in the Moominvalley. Since the publication of the first Moomin book in 1945, the imaginative and unique Moomin stories have continued to touch audiences around the world. What makes Moomins so enchanting after decades and decades? Get to know the fascinating world of Moomins!
From grim sketches to 13 heartening classic books: how the Moomins came into existence
The Moomins are a family of white and round characters that resemble hippos. However, the Moomins we all know and love today took some time to develop in Tove Jansson’s imagination. The first sketch resembling the Moomin troll appeared on the wall of the outhouse at the Jansson family summer cottage in the 1930s. The first sketches of the Moomins were scary, skinny black creatures with red eyes, resembling little demons more than the sweet and plumpy characters we know today.
Jansson began to write the first Moomin book during the First Soviet-Finnish War in 1939. The first book, The Moomins and the Great Flood, was published in 1945. Though the first Moomin books sold poorly, Jansson was thrilled about what she had created. The third Moomin book Trollkarlens hatt in 1948 was Jansson’s literary breakthrough. The book gained wide recognition in Finland and Sweden and was quickly translated into the English version Finn Family Moomintroll.
As a national treasures of Finland, Moomin characters have found their way for example into Finnish stamps through the years.
Jansson wrote nine Moomin novels and four picture books in total during the following decades, until 1980 when the last book Villain in the Moominhouse was published. Today the books have been translated to over 50 languages. The books have also been turned into TV series, films, plays and even an opera.
What’s so special about Moomins?
The popularity of the Moomins has not waned during the many decades since the first book saw the light of day. The Moomins continue to speak to children – and adults – of all ages.
The enchantment of the Moomins is largely based on the eccentric characters, many of them inspired by Jansson’s own friends and family. The stories emanate a family-centered way of life and caring for each other. This foundation keeps the tone of the stories on the positive side though the stories focus on surviving all kinds of hardships.
The characters are the heart and soul of the stories
Moomins live in the Moominhouse in Moominvalley. The central family includes Moomintroll, Moominmamma and Moominpappa. Several other characters live side by side with the family and participate in their adventures. These characters include for example Little My, Snork Maiden, Sniff, Snufkin and Too-Ticky. The stories also introduce darker characters, such as Hattifatteners and the Groke.
Jansson has said that many of the characters are self-portraits to some extent, as well as representations of the universal features of the human mind. For example the Groke – which roams around alone freezing everything she touches – is often interpreted as depicting the loneliness and negativity found in each human.
Life lessons from Moomins
As with fairy tales in general, the Moomins also provide deep lessons about life and humanity. Though harmony is the basic state in the Moominworld, the stories include deeper and darker recurring themes such as homelessness and orphanhood, facing natural disasters and searching for meaning in existence. In spite of all this, through courage and help from friends the Moomins survive the challenges they face and also learn something new about themselves in the process. The central message in the stories is that through friendship, hope and resilience even the most challenging circumstances can be conquered.
Another lesson from the Moomins is that everyone is free to be themselves. The Moomins welcome all kinds of visitors with open arms, even the more difficult ones. None of the characters is either good or bad but the characters have many sides – just like us humans.
Mugs, toys and amusement parks: Moomins are a big business
In addition to the fact that the Moomin stories have entertained, inspired and moved countless people over the decades, Moomins have also developed into quite a business over the years.
Moomin products were begun to be made already back in the 1950s with the approval of Tove Jansson herself. Moomin Characters Oy Ltd, founded by Tove and her brother Lars in 1958, still supervises the licenses to the Moomin characters. It says something about the popularity and significance of Moomins that in 2004, Moomin Characters was ranked as the most profitable company in Finland.
You can visit thee Moomin house in the Moomin world theme park in Naantali, Finland.
Moomin Characters has admitted hundreds of Moomin licenses in Finland and abroad. 1000 Moomin products are sold just in the Nordics, including clothes, bags, toys, coffees, drinking bottles and everything in between. Perhaps one of the most well-known of these products are the Moomin mugs by Arabia. The beautifully illustrated mugs have a legendary status in Finland, some of which collectors fight over. For reference, the most valuable Moomin mug, the rare Uimahyppy simpukoilla (‘Diving among seashells’), was sold in 2021 in an auction in Sweden with 24 000 euros.
In addition to all the Moomin products, several theme parks, shops and cafes around the world have been dedicated to the characters. Moomins are still going strong even decades after the first book saw the light of day.
You can also find the endearing fairytale characters in our products at Arctic Pure. You can find Moomin vitamins and supplements designed especially for children as well as Moomin sweets, biscuits, teas, chewing gums and pastilles. Get to know the Moomin products and order your favorites for the whole family!