An Evening With Elves
From careful connoisseurs of conduct to skillful surveyors of sweets, Santa’s task force of elves fills a multitude of roles during the Christmas season. While some aspects of an elf’s life and labor seem universal, its appearance differs from culture to culture. Join The StickerTalk as we embark on an elven adventure to explore the innumerable international interpretations of the Christmas elf!
- In Icelandic legend, Santa’s elves are replaced with thirteen trolls collectively called the Yule Lads. Children leave a shoe in the window in anticipation of the Yule Lads’ nightly visits from December 12 through Christmas Eve. If the child has been well-behaved, the trolls deposit sweet treats in the shoe. However, the Yule Lads leave behind rotting potatoes.
- Denmark celebrates Christmas with the help of Nisse, a gnome who enjoys pranks and mischief. Said to be clad in gray, woolen garments with a signature red hat and bright white clogs, Nisse traditionally passes by Danish houses on Christmas Eve. If he is left an offering of porridge or ride pudding outside a house, he will continue his journey without attempting to trick the people living there.
- In some cultures, Santa is accompanied by a variety of villainous vagrants instead of a troop of jolly elves. French children fear Santa’s character foil in Père Fouettard whose name means “the whipping father.” Père Fouettard, as his moniker implies, whips children guilty of disobedience during the previous year. The Christmas Cat, the Père Fouettard’s Icelandic counterpart, preys on people who have not received the gift at least one new article of clothing, and the German Knecht Ruprecht serves as Santa’s negative reinforcement.