Are Elves Real? Did Icelandic Tales Create Santa’s Elves?

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Smriti Razdan
Smriti Razdan
Smriti started her journey by attaining a degree in computer applications. She loves to indulge in reading undiscovered stories only to draw profound explanations about life and its existence. She welcomes you aboard on her expedition of finding herself. Smriti writes her content with a smile on her face hoping to transcend it to her readers.

If the arrival of Christmas has awoken the curious kid inside you, then congratulations, you are still keeping that inner kid alive. While many are busy decorating their places for Christmas you are wondering “Are Elves Real Or Not?”. Great, cause we are about to answer everything about elves and you will definitely love it.

Elves have been pretty popular creatures if we look at their history before and after the pre-Christian era. Even if we talk about modern times, J.R.R. Tolkein’s work has done incredible work to bring the elves back into the culture. However, if you ask anyone from Iceland about the same, you will hear multiple stories of elves almost as if they have always co-existed with elves, and that too for centuries. 

Let’s unravel everything about these little creatures. Before you get your answer on “are elves real or not”, know that elves and Santa’s elves are two different things. One is cultural and the other is more mythological. Let’s not keep you waiting. Quickly scroll down a little to know everything about elves.  

Are Elves Real? Do They Really Have Magic?

Are Elves Real? Did Icelandic Tales Create Santa’s Elves?

Remember in childhood, when you used to play those Christmas games with your siblings and thoroughly enjoyed the festival. Listening to all those stories where elves help Santa in the North Pole workshop was really fascinating as a kid. Lowkey, it still is. 

But Santa’s workshop isn’t the first reference of elves in history. They date long back to centuries and had a very different character as they are perceived to have today. Emerging from the early North Mythology, elves were considered one among the Gods and were said to have powers just like the Gods had. Anyone who disturbed or even got into their way would have to face some worst consequences like a life-long curse.  

In Norse Mythology, Álfheimr, which literally translates to elf world, was related to the god Freyr. According to Grímnismál, Freyr lived in the elf world Álfheimr. Just like this, there are many other texts and poems in the Norse Mythology that mention elves. Sometimes elves were a threat to the virginity of maidens. Throughout history, elves were considered mischievous and naughty beings with magical powers. 

A particular thing to note here is that male elves were always mentioned to be old no matter what their age was. On the other hand, female elves were a reflection of true beauty throughout their life. So much so that they could deceive people just by their appearance. 

The deceiving virtue of elves was still a strong belief in the early modern German texts. In the early 13th century, Heinrich von Morungen wrote in his fifth Minnesang, “full many a man is bewitched by elves / thus I too am bewitched by great love”. However, in the later medieval German texts, this bewitchment was replaced with the demonic attributes of elves. There are prayers for God to protect people from the attacks and threats of elves.

So, how exactly did the beautiful and powerful elves turn into demonic creatures? Not just that, today there is a whole different cute vibe related to elves. Here’s when region and religion end and culture comes in. 

Attributes Of Elves Over The Years

Are Elves Real? Did Icelandic Tales Create Santa’s Elves?

It is really important to have a look at the shift in the attributes of elves over the years. Just like fairies, goblins, and spirits, elves have also been widely characterized in history, before they were turned into Santa’s helpers. 

1. Appearance & Behaviour

In North Mythology, most elves were females. They danced in meadows in circles and whenever they left, they would leave a circle behind as a mark of their presence. These circles of mist were considered powerful locations. If anyone messed up anything there, urinated in the circle or disrespected it in any way, then s/he was to face venereal diseases. 

2. Elves In Ballads

There are several ballads mentioning elves and their mischievous nature. These ballads date back to the 1570s in Danish manuscripts. Also, these ballads cover many sexual encounters of elves and humans where elves are presented as a threat to humanity. They try to lure humans and knights into their world. In some ballads, the knight dies, in others, there is a happier ending. 

3. Elves Causing Illness

Elves were also said to harm people though through not-so-harmful ways. They could easily cause skin rashes. To protect them from elves, Scandinavian people used to make a pentagon star or a cross figure outside their doors, which is still a practice among these families. 

People of Iceland Actually Believe in Elves!!!

There have been many narratives in recent years that speak of elves in Iceland. According to the research of Magnus Skarphedinsson, Elves are real and he has all the reason to say so. He defines an elf as, “A well-intentioned being, smaller than a person, who lives outdoors and normally does not talk. They are not to be confused with Iceland’s “hidden people”, who resemble humans and almost all of whom speak Icelandic”. 

In Iceland, there are many people who can see elves. Many fishermen have even got warnings from elves to not go fishing on a particular day. And even when there were no chances of any storm to be seen, there were heavy sea storms and these incidents made their beliefs stronger. 

There was also a lady who met a young teen boy claiming to know her in 2002. When the lady asked the boy where they had met he replied with the previous address where she had lived 53 years ago. The daughter of the lady also agreed to this fact and claimed that it was the same place where her mother was seen playing with an invisible boy. 

According to Magnus Skarphedinsson, the boy had aged almost five times slower than a human being.  

Also, in 1971 in Iceland, a road construction project was continuously disrupted because the elves didn’t want a boulder to move as it was their home for long. After weeks, an agreement was made where the project managers agreed to only move the boulder 15 yards away from its original place. Skarphedinsson says, “This is probably the only country in the world whose government officially talked with elves.

What About Santa’s Elves?

No matter how much I want to believe in Santa’s elves, they aren’t real. Far from reality, Santa’s elves aren’t even mythological. Only created in the late eighteenth century, elves are only the creation of writers which turned them into a more cultural thing. 

William Shakespeare contributed to the idea of playful elves as friendly beings in his A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This was the foundation of the new image of elves which later was turned into the little helpers of Santa Claus. Just like Santa Claus isn’t real, his elves are also not real. So, no, since there’s no connection between the character visualization of elves in Icelandic tales to that of Santa Claus, they can not have constructed the idea of elves who help Santa in making toys for kids. 

Wrapping Up

Santa’s Elves are not a real-life concept. They are far from folklore and were only made for entertainment purposes in the 19th century. If this article on “Are Elves Real? Did Icelandic Tales Create Santa’s Elves?” was informative to you, then comment below and tell us all about it. 

If there’s a prevalent belief in your culture about elves then you can also share it with us in the comment section. We will share it with our readers. You can also send this article to your friends who believe in Norse Mythology. 

Keep visiting Path of EX and have a great day!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are elves real, yes or no?

No, elves are not real. They are widely mentioned in Greek folklore but since the world hasn’t seen them yet, it is not easy to prove their existence.

Are Christmas elves real?

Since Santa Claus isn’t real in itself, his elves are also not real. They are merely taken from Greek folklore and ballads and turned into these cute creatures. 

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