Hattifatteners in Moomin World theme park, Naantali, Finland.
|First appearance||The Moomins and the Great Flood|
|Created by||Tove Jansson|
The Hattifatteners (Swedish: Hattifnattar, Finnish: Hattivatit) are creatures in the Moomin books and comic strips by Tove Jansson. They are particularly prominent in the book Finn Family Moomintroll.
The Hattifatteners are tall, thin, ghost-like creatures, resembling long white socks. They have round neckless heads with two round eyes. Below their heads on either side are four or five finger-like projections that resemble hands. They are silent and serious, having neither the ability to talk nor to hear, but in contrast, their sense of feeling is extremely acute, and they can sense even the most minor tremblings of the ground. They communicate seemingly by telepathy, and their eyes change colour with the sky. They also seem to be melancholic characters. However, despite physiologically resembling animals, Hattifatteners grow from seeds. Planting Hattifattener seeds where someone has taken up residence is an effective way to get rid of him or her.
Hattifatteners travel the sea in small boats, in groups of uneven numbers, meeting every year on a lonely island. Their main interest is in the weather and they collectively own a barometer. They seem to have an interest in lightning storms, and such conditions electrify them making them give out a pale glow, and making them dangerous to touch.
The Hattifatteners are very serious and zealous about their barometer. In Finn Family Moomintroll, Hemulen steals their barometer, and this causes them to relentlessly pursue him until they get it back.
In the first comic strip story the Hattifatteners appear, although they are not mentioned by that name, and Moomin says that they are his "poor relations". In this particular story, unlike any other, they also are able to talk. As this ability to talk never appears again, it should perhaps be considered non-canonical. The canon of the comic strips is anyhow different from the canon of the novels and short stories.
Some think the Hattifatteners are wicked, but this is due to their strangeness. In the short story "The Secret of the Hattifatteners" that appears in Tales from Moominvalley Moominpappa tries to understand the mysterious Hattifatteners. Unusually for what is ostensibly a children's book the story deals with what appears to be Moominpappa's mid-life crisis. His quest to seek out and understand the mysterious Hattifatteners is his search for a deeper meaning in life. Moominpappa follows three Hattifatteners to their desolate island and during this trip he slowly comes to resemble them in spirit. Arriving on the island he is eventually saluted by all of them as they bow before him, and he bows back. Witnessing their obsession with the lightning storms he concludes that their secret is that they cannot experience emotions unless confronted by lightning, which is why they desire it so much. Further, he speculates that by gathering together, they can attract lightning.
- Reuben Sanchez (January 2002), ""We've decided to wake a mish for you": Gift Exchange and Didacticism in Tove Jansson's Finn Family Moomintroll", The Lion and the Unicorn 26 (1): 50–65