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Origin and Secrets of Christmas Elves

Centuries ago, Scandinavian people believed that elves guarded their homes against evil. If you were good, the elves were good to you, but if you were bad, the mischievous elves would play tricks on you. Some of the tricks they enjoyed playing were giving you nightmares by sitting on your head while you were dreaming, tangling your hair as you slept, making your milk turn sour, and stealing your sausages. Folks believed that if they left a bowl of porridge on the doorstep at night, the elves would be happy and not subject them to their ornery antics.

Elves are known to be tiny, dwarf-like creatures, either male or female, with pointed ears. They are youthful but immortal and have magic powers that can control what you see and experience. Their abodes are said to be underground, in forests, or in springs and wells, but no one really knows because they keep their location a secret! On the last day of the Christmas season, the elves light their torches and hold a special celebration in a hidden field.

In the mid-1800's, when elaborate Christmas festivals regained popularity, Christmas story writers reported the association elves have with Father Christmas (Santa Claus). It is well known that the elves help Santa design and make the wonderful toys and gifts he brings to children, but they have other duties as well. Some elves take care of Santa’s reindeer and keep his sleigh in good condition, ready to fly through the skies on Christmas Eve. Others help Santa keep his naughty and nice list in order, and some elves guard the secret location of Santa’s village.

Elves make special appearances in the days before Christmas, to see which children are behaving well and minding their parents. They are Santa’s secret agents and report their findings back to him. Children who are unkind and misbehave have their names added to the naughty list and may wake up Christmas morning to find their stocking filled with lumps of coal or bundles of twigs!

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