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?
from The Sound of One Hand Typing