Elf #atozchallenge

ELF

I don’t think I’ve seen the entire movie Elf, with Will Ferrell, James Caan, and Bob Newhart, though I’ve seen parts of it.

We all know Santa Claus employs elves to make and help distribute gifts to good girls and boys on Christmas Day. Some people even say he’s an elf, as in “Santa Claus is a jolly old elf.” Other people say Santa’s helpers are dwarves, but they mean elves.

Elves come from Germanic folklore, and they’re used pretty frequently in the fairy tales written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, authors of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, German folktales they accumulated. One of those fairy tales was “Rumpelstiltskin,” in which a poor miller tells the king his daughter can spin straw into gold. Naturally, the king thinks this is great, and puts the daughter in a barn full of straw, and tells her that if she hasn’t spun the straw into gold by morning, he’s going to kill her.

The girl, who has no clue how to spin straw into gold, starts crying because the king is going to kill her, when this little man comes in and offers to do it for her, the price being her first-born child. She agrees, the straw is spun into gold, and the king is so happy he marries the girl and makes her queen.

She gets pregnant and has a baby, and the little man comes to collect. She says “go away, you hideous little man,” and he tells her the only way she can get rid of him is to say his name, which she doesn’t know. Just when all seems lost, she overhears him say his name, and the next day, she says, “Well, hello there, Rumpelstiltskin!” He disappears with a bloodcurdling scream, and the king, the girl, and the kid (who grows up and marries Cinderella or something) live happily ever after.

Okay, maybe it’s not entirely correct, but you get the idea.

DC Comics thought it was a great idea, and invented Mr. Mxyzptlk, based on ol’ Rump, who would appear and act like a jerk until Superman could get him to say his name backwards.


A mural depicting (rather graphically) how Usinger’s Sausage is made, from somewhere in Milwaukee. Google translates the scroll in the middle as “But also Yankee and French love these German Chosen.” Anyone know German that can come up with a better translation?

Usinger’s in Milwaukee has been making German sausages since 1880. They’ve used elves in their advertising as long as I can remember.

So that’s all I know about elves. What can you tell me about them?

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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

15 thoughts on “Elf #atozchallenge”

  1. Hey John. Long time! I’m coming out of hiding for a day and making the rounds (taking a blogging break and going unplugged for a bit): Love your post: Love elves and especially love Usinger’s sausage!!! I only know about Usinger’s because one of my dogsitting customers leaves his dog with me when he goes up to Wisconsin to visit his family. He always brings me back Usinger’s sausage or brats and of course cheese curds. Love those too! That Usinger’s sausage is some of the best I’ve ever had. I even ordered a catalog for future purchases when I get a hankering. I haven’t ordered anything yet but I’m sure I will one of these days…

    Hope all is well in your world. I’ll be back to BOTB soon (May or June)…

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. In a city known for its German cuisine, Usinger’s sausage is probably the best. Back in the Mesozoic Era when I was a kid, we had an actual butcher shop in the neighborhood, and the owner said he wouldn’t sell any sausage but theirs.

      Enjoy your break from blogging. See you soon!

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  2. Don’t like Will Ferrel and never saw the Elf movie but I do like the Keebler version :). Interesting interpretation of the fairy tale too. Wonder what would happen if they all were somehow entwined…”the kid grows up and marries Cinderella…” and they have a baby who turns out to be Snow White…

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    1. I liked Ferrell in “Stranger Than Fiction” and liked “Talladega Nights” and “Anchorman,” but he’s a little too over-the-top for me. Strange I forgot about Keebler; they were in Elmhurst (just outside Chicago) and were a big customer of Newly Weds Fpods, where I worked as a supervisor after I got out of college. Maybe I’m trying to put them out of my mind, because they were a real pain in the neck…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the German elves which are often found in gardens. The other famous fairy tale is The Shoemaker and his elves. When my mom was little, living in Germany, there was a man who had a garden with a whole theme of Gnomes…or elves. He was made fun of by the people in the neighbourhood but her and other kids would look at his garden through the fence. She always said he was quite talented for making this whole village in his garden.

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    1. Usually Heather Gardner (another of the co-hosts) has a theme that involves her garden gnome, Stormy. Guess she decided to give it a rest this year.

      I never quite understand why people can’t just appreciate that what they consider strange hobbies make the hobbyist happy, and that there are others who enjoy their work.

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  4. I had forgotten the story of ole Rumplwhatever. When I was a kid I knew Santa had elves that made toys and packed the sleigh. Now the only elves I am interested in make cookies.

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    1. I always pull this video out at Christmastime, although they’re called dwarfs here:

      I guess the Keebler elves are now working with Snap!, Crackle! and Pop!… Keebler’s now owned by Kellogg…

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    1. I’m surprised Snap!, Crackle!, and Pop! slipped my mind.

      We acted out Rumpelstiltskin in grammar school for a school pageant. The legend is hammered into my mind.

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