Friendship and love in the Moomin stories

From Moomintroll and Snufkin’s bond to Moominmamma’s caring nature, the Moomin stories can teach us a lot about how to treat one another. Explore the themes of friendship and love through the eyes of the Moomins!

Family and friends were always very important to Tove Jansson. The Moomin stories in many ways reflect the strong ties she had with her family and friends, and how they encouraged each other to express themselves. Much like the Moomins, they embraced individuality and freedom, whilst closeness and coming together remained important.

“Isn’t it fun when one’s friends get exactly what suits them?”

Moominmamma in Moominsummer Madness (1954)

The Moomin way of life” is rooted in the values of love, friendship, kindness, and tolerance. The themes in the books are timeless and universal, which is why they have endured for nearly 80 years and continue to be embraced by new fans and generations.

Tove Jansson’s niece Sophia Jansson has explained that “the Moomin stories are essentially about the things that are the most important to anyone living anywhere – things like love, tolerance, respect, being part of a family, and belonging. Those things are the same no matter where you’re from, what your gender, race, religion, or sexuality.”

The Moominhouse is always open to those seeking shelter. Anyone can be part of the family, even if they’re a different species—the Moomins believe that everyone deserves to be treated with respect. A beautiful message that should be central not only in Moominvalley but also in the real world!

Friendship in Moominvalley

The values of respect and tolerance blossom in a beautiful variety of friendships in Moominvalley. The words ‘Moomin family and their friends’ are a typical phrase throughout the Moomin books. Everyone’s uniqueness is cherished, and meaningful camaraderie can be found in mere moments of meeting someone new.

The sun was up now and shone straight into their eyes, making them blink. They sat swinging their legs over the running water, feeling happy and carefree. They had had many strange adventures on this river and had brought home many new friends.

Moomintroll’s mother and father always welcomed all their friends in the same quiet way, just adding another bed and putting another leaf in the dining room table.

– Moomintroll and Snufkin in Finn Family Moomintroll (1948)

Moomintroll Snufkin novel


A duo whose friendship is central to the stories is Moomintroll and Snufkin; the “besties” of Moominvalley. They meet for the first time in the novel Comet in Moominland (1946) when Moomintroll and Sniff are on their way to the Observatory. At the end of their journey together, Moomintroll introduces Snufkin to the family as his best friend.

Moomintroll caught hold of the rudder and the raft swung towards land. ‘Off with the painter!’ shouted Snufkin, hopping eagerly up and down. ‘Fancy that! What fun! Coming all this way just to see me!’

‘Well – we didn’t exactly,’ began Moomintroll, clambering ashore.

‘Never mind!’ answered Snufkin. ‘The main thing is that you’re here. You’ll stay the night, won’t you?’

– Moomintroll meets Snufkin for the first time in Comet in Moominland (1946)

The friendship between Moomintroll and Sniff, on the other hand, is more like a relationship between siblings. Sniff moves to the Moominhouse already in the first Moomin story, The Moomins and the Great Flood (1945). He tags along on adventures and is quite dependable on Moomintroll, like a little brother.

Alongside this core trio of adventure buddies is a plethora of friendships: ones that go far back, like Moominpappa with Hodgkins, the Muddler and the Joxter, and ones that are new and brief, like Hobgoblin’s visit to Moominvalley. Some characters might not instantly come to mind as good friends, but kindness is found even in the fiercest individuals – Little My often takes it onto her to get the things done that nobody else wants to do. 

A friendship that all the characters cherish is one with nature. In fact, Tove Jansson often used the words ‘friendly’ or ‘unfriendly’ about nature in her work. Her detailed descriptions of rough islands, mysterious forests and the stormy sea make nature as much of a character in the stories as any individual.

The meaningful lessons of friendships in many forms continue to impact Moomin fans worldwide. 

In 2023, the Red Cross, together with Moomin, launched a campaign called Friendship Skills with the Moomins, providing free learning material for educators, parents, and caretakers. The materials aimed to teach children emotional skills are already available in six different languages!

Moomin friendship

Love in its many forms

Love in the Moomin stories goes far beyond romantic love. It’s present in caring for one another in the everyday.

Moominmamma is a great example of that. She cares and nurtures everyone and everything around her without expectations. The special bond she has with her son, Moomintroll, and the Moomin family’s way of accepting everyone into the family are rooted in unconditional love for other beings.

But there is plenty of romantic love too. Moomintroll is infatuated with Snorkmaiden from the start—as he is with Snufkin—and the pair shares many heartwarming moments throughout their adventures. 


“There’s no need to imagine that you’re a wondrous beauty, because that’s what you are.”

– Moomintroll in Moominsummer Madness (1954)

They meet for the first time in Comet in Moominland (1946) when Moomintroll saves Snorkmaiden from a poisonous bush. Later she saves him from a giant octopus.

“I would save your life eight times a day if only I could.” 

– Snorkmaiden in Comet in Moominland 1946

Mymble, Little My’s big sister, longs for romance and is very often infatuated with someone. Unfortunately, she is not good at choosing who to admire and is quite unlucky in love. In the Moomin comics, Mymble, for example, falls for Mr. Brisk – who is only focused on his love of winter sports. 

The Moomin stories also enclose hidden messages about love, queer love specifically. Thingumy and Bob are a pair of friends who are so close that others struggle to understand them, they even have their own language – but their story is deeper than that.

Thingumy and Bob in Swedish (the original language of the Moomin stories) are “Tofslan and Vifslan,” which refer to Tove and her lover, Vivica Bandler. The ruby that Thingumy and Bob so preciously care about has been interpreted as a symbol of the forbidden love between the two women in the 1940s.

Loneliness in the Moomin stories

Connecting with one another isn’t all roses in Moominvalley either, which is what makes the stories even more relatable. The relationships have depth and nuance. 

Whereas Moomintroll is in awe of Snufkin and spends much of his time thinking about him, Snufkin is a free spirit who must often leave Moomintroll behind to live his vagabond life. Their friendship tells a story of one side always craving for more and the other focusing on their own thing.

The Moomin books also beautifully tell the story of loneliness. The Groke is often talked about as a personification of loneliness. Unlike free-spirited Snufkin, the Groke doesn’t choose to be alone, her icy presence just frightens others.


The Groke sauntered about on the ice, deep in her own thoughts that no-one would ever learn.

– Moominland Midwinter (1957)

Researcher Sanna Tirkkonen has also examined the theme of loneliness in the book Moominpappa at Sea (1965), stating it as a central theme in Tove Jansson’s work.

Through the diverse and meaningful relationships between the Moomins and their friends, the world of friendship and love in the Moomin stories can teach us a lot.

Don’t forget – even Stinky is always welcome in the Moominhouse!