Elf Secret Agents
A little Elf History
Mix: 1/2 cup of oatmeal with a 1/4 cup of colored sugar
Sprinkle on the lawn to attract flying reindeer – and Santa!
Elf Joke: What do elves learn in school? The Elf-abet!
Track Santa on Christmas Eve
at the official NORAD Santa Tracker website: www.noradsanta.org
“Look!” Ella Iguanodon exclaimed. “It's Mary Christmas elf!” Ella waggled a soft elf doll with long, long legs in front of Jeff's snout, tickling his nostrils like a feather.
“A-choo!” Jeff Stegosaurus managed to turn his head and politely sneeze into his sleeve. “I like the boy elf, what's his name?”
“Bushy Evergreen,” Ella answered. “He's an inventor.”
“Then he's my kind of elf,” Jeff said. “What does Mary Christmas elf do?”
“Make sweet treats,” Ella read the tag out loud. “Looks like Alabaster Snowball elf keeps track of the 'naughty and nice' list. Oh, my goodness! Jefferson Stegosaurus is on the 'naughty' list!”
“It should have your name on the list,” Jeff said with a shake of his head. “But then you're not really naughty, you just like mischief.”
“I wish I was an elf,” Ella said. “Because I'd already know what I was getting for Christmas!”
Jeff sat on the floor next to the elf display and flipped through his magazine until he found information on the history of elves. He read out loud so that Ella and Mary Christmas could hear.
Mischief, Mushrooms, and Engineering
Elf history goes back hundreds of years to Germany and Scandinavia. Germanic people believed that elves were magical 'creatures of light' who lived in the heavens and could control what happened to people and what people could 'see', or think was true. Elves can be male or female, and they look youthful even though they live forever. Elves are tiny and have pointy ears. An elf can choose to live in a forest, under the ground in a den, or near fresh water, as long as the elf keeps the location of their home a secret.
Nordic countries, which include Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland, believed that elves were house gnomes who could protect the people living there from bad things. House gnomes are mostly nice, but if you didn't treat them well they might play tricks on you, like stealing your sausages or turning your milk sour. Leave a gnome a bowl of oatmeal so they won't feel ornery.
In the mid-1800's the true purpose of the elves was discovered – they are helpers for Father Christmas, or Santa Claus. Elves are sometimes assigned as Secret Agents who watch how children behave. In the United States and the United Kingdom, it's popular to think that elves come to visit during advent – the time of year when we wait for Christmas to arrive, in order to keep an eye on children and report back to Santa so that his 'naughty or nice' list will be up to date on Christmas Eve.
Some Christmas elves are engineers. High tech toys need to be imagined, designed, and manufactured. Plain old 'house gnomes' would need to go to college for these jobs, but some elves spend their time helping Santa to design and build the wonderful toys and presents he brings to children. Santa gets a toy request and the engineer elves figure out how to make it – pretty cool!
Some elves care for the reindeer who pull Santa's sleigh. After Frederick Cook and company reached the North Pole on April 21, 1908 and Robert Peary, Matthew Henson, and four Inuit men named Ootah, Seegloo, Egingway, and Ooqueah reached the North Pole on April 6, 1909 (both claim to be the first but Peary has more acceptance) people realized that there were no reindeer at the North Pole where Santa is supposed to live. It's said that Santa's secret village is actually in Lapland, Finland where there are plenty of reindeer. In fact, in the 1890s Laplanders brought a herd of reindeer to Alaska and taught the Eskimos how to take care of them for food. The elves and reindeer probably live near Korvatunturi Mountain on the Finnish-Russian border.
Elves are also associated with Amanita muscaria, or toadstool mushrooms, which have red caps, white gills, and white spots. Toadstools grow in the northern half of the world and that just happens to be where Christmas elves live.
Fun Elfin Facts
Mischievous elves are busy at night. While you sleep an impish elf may sit on your head to give you nightmares. "Albtraum" is a German word for nightmare and it also means "elf dream" or “elf pressure”. Prankster elves might try to tangle or braid your hair at night while you're dreaming.
Evidence suggests that at least some of Santa's reindeer are females because male reindeer generally shed their antlers each year long before December 25th, but females keep their antlers until January.
There are actually two North Poles. There is the north magnetic pole, a place that moves daily based on magnetic changes under the Earth's crust. There's also a fixed spot at the top of the Earth called the North Pole.