Tomte are cute, now. They have their own catalog, and in the yearly Luciadag festivals, are played by pre-K's in Swedish costume. In our version, they are referred to as "mischievous little creatures who can be bribed with food." Which is mildly amusing. We have them up in church, even though they are deeply pagan, because we have drawn all the danger out of them over the last century or so.
Originally, they were the souls of the original builders of a farm, which can perhaps have a positive, protective spin put on it, but holds hints of something grimmer.
We miss the power of the paganism because we no longer understand the power of poverty and hunger. If offended, the tomtegubbe might take revenge by curdling the milk, goes one example. That sounds like a minor inconvenience, an "oh, darn" moment now. In a context of ongoing hunger, with the storage of most foods a chancey thing because of mice, leakage, or rot, the loss of any food was frightening. One might well turn to whatever gods or spirits one knew in order to stay alive.
I wrote more on this over a year ago in the series on Wyrd and Providence.