Christmas Elves

In the mid-nineteenth century, Scandinavian writers created a popular race of little people, based on the Nisse, to aid Santa Claus in his fictional adventures.  The helpful household spirits were already associated with the season due to their connection with Yule, so it was but a small leap to have their good nature associated with the increasingly popular Saint Nicholas.  The chores traditionally associated with the Nisse evolved into helping Father Christmas create toys, and they were said to live with him at the North Pole.  Of course, Santa Claus is at least partially derived from the Germanic god Odin, who was said to rule over Alfheim, the land of the elves, and this may have given writers of the era cause to connect them with the character.  This connection may even explain why they are referred to as elves in the first place.  It is important to note that these changes were created by fiction writers, and more traditional, folkloric beliefs regarding the Nisse still exist today.

Tobias Wayland