Santa’s helpers? Christmas elves of the movie era are well-recognized as helpful little green-and-red-clad men with pointy ears who love to make toys—but the original elves were not quite so bubbly. In German, Scandinavian and Icelandic folklore, elves were thought to be creatures of the earth, living in rocky cliffs and hills. As the decorations of the season begin to be packaged up for another year, we offer you a selection of “real” elves.
Darkness, illness, nightmares and strange incidents were often associated with elves in early German and Norse mythology. Clearly, those elves were not as good-natured as contemporary Christmas elves. People who were thought to be using witchcraft or magic were said to be involved with elven creatures. Some truer-to-folklore artistic elves: Etiana The Earth Spirit Fairy Doll (pictured above, left), created by Yeshe of StarCrystalKeeper. Made of polymer clay, this earthy elf holds a crystal in her left hand, presumably to use in one of the spells these creatures were known for. The handsome little elf poking out of his acorn tree on the right is the creation of Cindi Hardwicke of In the Shade of the Sycamore Tree. This Elfin Tree Vase is multi-purpose, made of stoneware clay and —we presume— a preferred environment for non-Christmas-related elves.
Keeping true to folklore, Gideon is a man of nature. Sue Hale, of GlitterGirlFeltWorks offers Gideon, Keep of Small Things (pictured right), a 16-inch needle-felted, wonderfully detailed doll. His elaborate costume includes suede, copper lame, and velveteen. And as Sue describes it, “his heavily-callused, hairy feet provide all the protection he needs.”