Friday, December 9, 2016


    Santa Claus gets a lot of attention during the holiday season.  He deserves it....rumor has it that he takes into account your wish list, helps you improve your behavior from naughty to nice and travels around the world in just one night to deliver all of those presents.  But how could he do all of this by himself???
   As it turns out, Santa's not alone.  According to folklore, working hard behind the scenes and under the big guy's shadow are Santa's elves.  Typically under appreciated during the holidays, the amount of labor these tiny, mythical creatures clock in is pretty astounding.  We have to assume that much like Rudolph and his red nose, without the help of the elves, Santa could have a lot more stress leading up to Christmas and wouldn't be nearly as jolly.
   But have you ever wondered what the life of an elf is really like?  Sure, there are a lot of stories and movies about Santa's elves...they're featured in everything from "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" in 1964, to Will Ferrell's "Elf", in 2004.  And although there are some basic similarities between stories, each account offers its own unique take on elf life and customs.

   So what do elves look like?  Do elves just make toys, or do they have other duties?  Do they work just during the months leading up to Christmas Eve, or do they work all year long?  Do they get health insurance and vacation time?
   Although no one may ever know for sure just how elves operate, we have what we think are the most logical explanations for how they accomplish all that they do. 

Elf Lifestyle

   It may be that Santa's elves don't have too much in common with the elves in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of Rings".  While Legolas, the main elf from the series of books, is tall and skilled in archery, the elves from the North Pole could be closer in appearance to hobbits.

Elf Appearance

   Elves are widely regarded as being small in stature....no taller than 3 feet, and some might even fit in the palm of your hand.  One of an elf's defining characteristics is his pointy ears, which we think could help in anticipating repairs on Santa's sleigh.  Because elves' ear size in relation to their heads could be quite large, like bats, some think elves could use echolocation.  But, in fact, it's the pinna, or tissue on the outer ear that might best help elves localize sounds like a screw that became loose on a sleigh's runner.

Elf Personality

   Because they're so tiny, elves may not seem too intimidating.  But elves would have to be powerful, energy-packed beings in order to fill Santa's quota of gift making.  Could they be feisty, fidgety and nervous...hard -wired for constant activity, always fiddling and tinkering with objects, taking them apart and putting them back together?
   Santa's elves would also have amazing spatial reasoning, giving them the ability to understand LEGO structures and doll houses in an instant and greatly increasing productivity.  Due to all this movement and excitement, elves would burn a lot of calories....they'd be naturally slender, unlike Santa.

Elf Diet

   The 2004 movie "Elf", would have you believe an elf's diet is "mostly candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup".  Although it's easy to imagine elves loving candy, they would need to stick to a healthy diet in order to maintain their high level of activity.

Elf Duties

   Although elves might have a natural drive for crafting everything from wooden rocking horses to Xbox 360's, we assume that they would still have to attend elf school.
   Elves would need to learn several basic subjects in order to function correctly in the workshop, and curriculum would include courses such as Woodworking 101, Computer Science and Technology, Locomotives (Large and Miniature) 101 and Advanced Return Policies.  Once an elf graduated with enough elf school credits, he or she could probably gain clearance to perform a wide variety of duties in Santa's workshop.

    Technology is always changing, though, and Santa's elves would need to know everything from traditional toy-making to the most current and up-to-date computer games.  That's why elves would need to continue taking classes even after they graduated...one the newest version of iPod come out; for instance, the elves would need to know the ins and outs well before Santa headed out on Christmas Eve.
   The reindeer would also need to be taken care of.  The most logical explanation is that elves would be in charge of training and feeding the reindeer, as well as keeping the stables clean.  And once Santa was read to go, Rudolph and company would have to be in top form.  We'd like to imagine that Rudolph might even have a rider that ensures that his nose is polished daily and red and green M & M's are widely available throughout the reindeer compound.
   This would, of course, lead to a minor rivalry with the reindeer.  Since elves are small they wouldn't have too many chances to see things from a higher point of view...the North Pole and the surrounding Arctic terrain are fairly level, in fact.  So since the reindeer could have the ability to fly and get  to guide Santa's sleigh all around the world, the elves might be a little jealous.  They would rarely get to fly with Santa on Christmas Eve...they'd be quite busy monitoring Santa's flight path back at the North Pole.

   With all the hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas, would Santa's elves ever get a break?  Once Christmas is over, there would still be a few more days of work...Santa couldn't be perfect and might mix presents up, so the elves would take care of refunds, returns and exchanges.  By New Year's Day, the elves might be ready for a break, though, and they'd head out on a much-deserved vacation.  Their ideal destination?  Perhaps a Scandinavian country, like Norway or Switzerland ...although it's very cold their during late winter, it's warmer than the North Pole.  Elves might even enjoy staying in ecolodges and taking a dip in the many geothermal hot springs.  Much of elf folklore originates from Scandinavian countries, too, so it makes sense that they would want to visit their homeland.
   We'd like to think that elves also got health insurance...after all, expendig a lot of energy might lead to some clumsy scrapes and scratches.  But health care is expensive.  Could it be that they visit an undisclosed Canadian health insurnace agency??


   In the cobwebs and dust of old farmhouse loft in Denmark, it is reported that there lives a mischievous elf named Julenisse, or Nisse.  He is said to wear gray wool clothing, a red bonnet, red stockings, and white clogs upon his feet.  Though he is usually kind and helpful around the farm towards good children, he does love to play jokes.
   During the weeks leading up to Christmas, the Danish celebrate Advent.  Each Sunday in Advent, family and friends gather to light candles in the Advent crown.  Refreshments of sweet fruit juices are served to the children, while adults drink a cocktail of red wine, raisins, and spices.  Little fire-baked cakes sprinkled with sugar provide a tasty snack.


  On December 13th, Lucia processions are held at many hospitals, schools, and rest homes.  Children's choirs perform a parade in honor of Lucia, "the saint of lights".  The children dress in white, carry candles, and follow one child who is portrayed as the Lucia bride.  She wears a wreath of fir and lit candles upon her head.  The lights are dimmed as the procession winds its way down the aisles, singing the Lucia song.
   Danish families keep Nissse in mind when they are preparing to celebrate Christmas. It is a proud and joyful time as families share in the duties of making their own baubles and decorations from bright paper, straw, and scraps of wood.  Writing Christmas cards to friends and relatives is popular in Denmark.  It is a cherished tradition for most to send and receive wishes for a "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year"!  After the decorations are made, the parents secretly decorate the Christmas tree.  The children are not allowed to see the tree until Christmas Eve dinner, which consists of rice pudding (that holds a magic almond worth a prize for its finder), goose, red cabbage, and browned potatoes.  At this time, the tree is lit, and the families gather near it to sing Christmas hymns and carols.



   After Christmas Eve dinner, the Christmas Eve, or Juelaften celebration,  is the most popular and biggest event of the year.  Friends gather for parties that last through the night, and continue to feast on goose, red cabbage, fried pastries, and rice pudding (also called grod).  Grod plays an important role in Christmas celebrations in Denmark.  The Christmas elves (Julenisse) are left an offering of rice pudding, in order to appease them and keep their pranks mild.
   For those looking for a Christmas experience a bit more quaint and old-fashioned, the Danish may have what you are looking for.



    We have all heard the silliness of the Twelve days of Christmas and the litany of gifts bestowed by the true love.  Have you ever wondered what that song is really about?  Whether you believe it or not, there is a much deeper message to the song that has spiritual roots.
During the Protestant rule of England the teachings of Catholic church were forbidden and the church as a whole was outlawed.  It was during this time that the church went into hiding and sought ways to teach their doctrine in secret.  One of the ways that the doctrine spread was through the Twelve days of Christmas.
   Before we launch into the meaning of the song, we need to remember that there were twelve days to Christmas.  These twelve days began on Christmas day and went through the celebration of Epiphany twelve days later.  The song begins on a specific day of Christmas and my true love gave to me.  The true love in the song is God the Father and the many gifts are different aspect of faith.


   The first day of Christmas was a partridge in a pear tree.  The partridge is considered one of the most protective birds and shelters their young with their own bodies.  The partridge represents the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  The cross is often referred to as a tree and it seems fitting that the partridge is in a tree.

   The two turtle doves represent the Old and New Testaments.  The Bible is divided into two major books of the two Testaments.  Christians regard the Bible as the inspired word of God and the most sacred book of faith.  The Bible is clearly vital to Christian faith.

   The three French hens are for the three major virtues: faith, hope, and love.  The Apostle Paul writes of the three vital aspects of Christian character in 1st Corinthians 13.  These virtues are important points to developing a Christian perspective in life.

   The four calling birds represent the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  The gospels contain the message and ministry of Jesus.  It is in these first four books of the New Testament that we find the message of salvation and the good news of Jesus Christ.  These are considered, the most important books in the Bible.

   The five golden rings are the first five books of the Bible also known as the Pentateuch.  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  They contain the creation of the universe, the establishment of the nation of Israel, the story of Moses, and the giving of the Hebrew Law.  The Pentateuch is the section of Biblical literature called the books of the law.

   The six geese a laying stand for the six days of creation.  The Bible clearly teaches the belief that God created the universe in six days.  This belief is core to much of the teachings of the Bible.

   The seven swans a swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.  These gifts are prophecy, ministry, exhortation, teaching, giving, leading, and compassion.

   The eight maids a milking are for the eight Beatitudes taught by Jesus in the sermon on the mount. 

   The nine ladies dancing stand for the nine fruits of the spirit.  The Apostle Paul records nine character traits that are imparted through the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians.  The fruit of the Spirit is love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.

   The ten lords a leaping stand for the Ten Commandments.  The Ten Commandments are the basis for the Jewish Law and are the foundation for most moral codes found in modern society.

   The eleven pipers piping are the eleven faithful disciples.  Jesus chose twelve disciples to serve as leaders known as apostles.  Judas betrayed Jesus and turned him over to the Jewish authorities.  Jesus was crucified the next day and Judas committed suicide.  This left only eleven apostles.

   The twelve drummers drumming represent the twelve points of the Apostles Creed.  The Apostles Creed is the first statement of faith established by the early church.  The creeds were statements that communicated the understanding of faith and the basic beliefs of the church.