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Elves do not have a corner on Christmas. These little industrious folk appear in folklore and legends around the world. By far the most prevalent appearances occur in Northern Europe, especially Norse myths.

In this setting, however, elves are not small, nor without serious magical power. In fact, they?re human size and nearly Divine!
The Norse believed that humans and elves could mate and bear children. This would provide offspring with qualities worthy of classic sagas, which was not overlooked by early scribes.

There’s no question that these writings imply that these nature spirits wielded power, but seemed to have far fewer limitations than humans.

Moving from Norse realms, in Scandinavia elves seem predominantly blond haired and female in gender with nearly eternal life spans.

Overall these women were regarded as helpful, friendly and very playful unless insulted. For the person who dared irk the ladies, disease or disaster loomed in the not-too-distant future.

Of course, the elves could be propitiated with little treats, especially sweet breads, which may tie into our leaving Santa cookies on Christmas! The temperamental side of elves may also have some connection with Santa’s naughty and nice list.
Scandinavian elves had a habit of entrancing humans. Anyone watching their dance would enter the fairy world only to discover they’d left the human world for many, many years. This event, however, seemed a natural aptitude rather than the result of some ire. No matter their mood, however, Scandinavian elves endeared themselves to the people and remain as the unseen people of the land that are respected.
Mind you, Scandinavian elves were not the only ones with a touchy temper. German elves wielded retribution, brought nightmares, and had a tendency to like playing pranks!

The Germanic elf was also tied to nature and represented fruitfulness. Similar to Scandinavian depictions, most images were beautiful women, or very young, handsome men with magic powers. The German word for elf is Elb (or Elbe for women), whereas the Norse was alfar.
Then there are English elves that include the images to which we’ve grown accustom, such as the winged folk. While some of these concepts arrived from other lands via trade routes and war, there’s no question that the wee folk became firmly ensconced in English tales and folkways.


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