Tolkien Gateway

Green Brother

The Green Brother is a mysterious character in the Father Christmas Letters. He is the son of Grandfather Yule and the brother of Father Christmas.[1]

Like Father Christmas, the Green Brother collects food, clothes, and toys for poor children.[2] Father's Christmas's green trousers were a present from his green brother.[3]

[edit] Inspiration

While Deborah and Ivor Rogers argued in J.R.R. Tolkien: A Critical Biography (1982) that the Green Brother represented "the embodiment of ancient springtime fertility myths" (suggestive of the Green Knight), Kris Swank has suggested that the Green Brother:

might have been Tolkien’s explanation to his children why Victorian pictures of Father Christmas showed him wearing green robes. Grandfather Yule, whose name is also Nicholas ‚after the Saint‛ (FCL 39), might, then, refer to the pre-Victorian image of the mid-winter spirit
—Kris Swank[4]

The Green Brother would thus in the latter's interpretation rather be a Christmas figure than a summer figure.[5]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Baillie Tolkien (ed.), Letters from Father Christmas, "Christmas 1930"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Baillie Tolkien (ed.), Letters from Father Christmas, "December 23rd 1931"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Baillie Tolkien (ed.), Letters from Father Christmas, "December 23rd 1932"
  4. Kris Swank, "The Hobbit and The Father Christmas Letters", in Mythlore 123
  5. Janet Brennan Croft, David Bratman, "Father Christmas Letters" dated 24 December 2016, Mailing list for the Mythopoeic Society (accessed 2 January 2017)
The world of the Letters from Father Christmas
Main characters: Father Christmas · North Polar Bear · Ilbereth
Other characters: Mr Cave Bear · Green Brother · Grandfather Yule
Man in the Moon · Paksu & Valkotukka · Snow Man
Races & Peoples: Goblins · Green elves · Red Elves · Snow-elves · Snow-men
Other concepts: Arktik · Goblin Alphabet · Windbeam