Beloved throughout Finland and beyond, the Moomins are an eccentric family of nature-loving, white-snouted, hippo-like trolls. Moominpappa, Moominmamma and their timid child, Moomintroll, are based closely on creator Tove Jansson’s own bohemian family. Other characters include the eternal wanderer Snufkin; brutally honest Little My; the eerie Hattifatteners, who grow from seeds and are drawn to electrical storms; and the icy Groke, who leaves a frozen trail wherever she drifts.

Jansson’s first published Moomin drawing appeared as a signature on her political cartoons. She wrote the first of her nine children's books, Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen (The Moomins and the Great Flood) during WWII, followed by several cartoon books based on her characters. Her comic strips debuted in the London Evening News in 1954, before being syndicated around the world: Canadian publisher Drawn & Quarterly recently republished them in six hardback editions. Adaptations have included a Japanese cartoon series, a film and an album; Moomintroll has even starred on the side of Finnair planes.

Moomin merchandise is everywhere in Finland, but the real deal is the Moomin Shop, which was set up by Jansson’s heirs; branches include one in Naantali's Old Town. For an up-close encounter, visit Naantali's Muumimaailma or Tampere’s Moomimuseo.