_Kid 1: Are you a real elf?
Me: Of course, I am.
Kid 2: But why haven’t you got pointy ears?
Me: Not all elves have pointy ears.
_ Kid 3: So when’s Santa coming?
Me: He’ll be here at six o’clock.
Kid 1: Is he coming in his sleigh?
Me: No, he’s coming on the back of a motorbike.
Kid 3: Why?
Me: Well, there’s not enough room here to fit Santa’s sleigh.
Kid 1: Do you know what I’m asking Santa for Christmas?
Kid 1: An airplane; a real one!
Kid 2: I’m gonna ask him for a gun.
Me: Why do you want a gun?
Kid 2: It’s a toy gun, which shoots paper bullets.
Me: Ouch. That'll hurt.
Kid 3: How much longer before Santa arrives?
Me: In 10 minutes. You’ll be able to hear him when the bike comes down the street.
It’s so refreshing having a conversation with kids who believe in Santa. It makes my job that much easier.
Unlike adults, kids also know when they see an elf; they don’t confuse me for a pixie. It’s Christmas, after all.
The difference between elves and pixies
1. Pixies are small, quick beings who dart about and can often fly. Elves can be tall as well as small. They are quiet and live in hidden places and may be mischievous, but can also have advanced knowledge and powers. (Source: Fairies Secrets)
2. Elves are Scandinavian (also used in the US and Germany) and thought to be divine or semi-divine beings. Pixies are English and thought to be Celtic in nature and are classified as fairies or sprites. (Source: Catherine Mede)
3. Elves are linked to Christmas, while pixies are linked to naughtiness and mischief.
(Extract from The Holiday Spot)
In pagan times, Scandinavians believed that elves guarded their homes against evil.
If you were good, the elves were good to you, but if you were bad, these mischievous elves would play tricks on you.
Although they were mostly benevolent, it was said that they turned nasty when not properly treated.
Some of the tricks they playing were giving people nightmares by sitting on their head while sleeping, tangling their hair, making milk turn sour and stealing sausages.
People believed if they left a bowl of porridge on the doorstep at night, the elves would be happy and not get up to any mischief.
Elves, who were already associated with storytelling and magic, assumed a new significance in the mid-1800s: Elaborate Christmas festivals regained popularity and Scandinavian story writers portrayed elves as helpers of Father Christmas (Santa Claus).
It was believed that the elves helped Santa design and make the wonderful toys and gifts for children.
Some elves took care of Santa's reindeer and kept his sleigh in good condition, ready to fly through the skies on Christmas Eve.
Others helped Santa keep his naughty and nice list in order, while some elves guarded Santa’s secret location at the North Pole.
In 1850, the Christmas issue of "Godey's Lady's Book" featured a picture of a modern Christmas tree on its cover. (Source: All About Fairies)
Godey was influential in the birth of Christmas tradition. In 1873, its Christmas issue featured a front cover illustration showing Santa amid toys and elves with the caption, "Here we have an idea of the preparations that are made to supply the young folks with toys at Christmas time."
The elves therefore became a part of the Santa story.
Modern elves have also been known to appear in Coolum Beach to herald Santa’s arrival on the back of a motorbike.
_Performing with Cool Harmonies community choir at the Santa Comes To Coolum Town event
on 2 December 2011. Photo: Kim Anderson.
Long before I took up official Elf duties, however, I had an equally important role:
The Hanta years
It was the day before Christmas,
And all through the shopping centre,
No one was stirring, not even Santa.
“He’s gone to feed the reindeer,” said the note on the gate.
Oh no, we’ve arrived much too late!
With four kids in tow, we were way too slow,
To catch up with Santa, for their annual photo.
The kids shrugged their shoulders, they couldn’t care less;
They were a bit too old to see a fat man in fancy dress.
At home as we stood in front of the Christmas tree,
One of the mums suddenly shouted with glee:
“I know,” said she.
“Hari can wear Santa’s cap,
“And the kids can all sit on her lap.”
The kids jumped up and down with joy,
‘Cos they were happy to take part in such a silly ploy.
They donned Christmas hats and reindeer ears,
While dad rolled his eyes and downed a few beers.
And in that year of 2005,
A new tradition was born, which was briefly alive;
For three years Hanta’s Little Helpers would meet,
To capture on camera their special little treat.
You see, the kids now preferred their photo with Hanta,
As they’d long since forgotten that other Santa.
And so, from Hanta and my Little Helpers
We wish each one of you a merry cheer,
And many blessings for the coming new year!
Postscript: This is my last blog post for 2011. I’ll return in a couple of weeks after I’ve recovered from the festive cheer.
New Zealand 2008
New Zealand 2006
United Kingdom 2004
Athens Olympics 2004
Beijing to Athens 1994
I acknowledge the traditional Custodians of the land on which I work and live, the Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi and Joondoburri people, and recognise their continuing connection to land, the waters and sky. I pay my respect to them and their cultures; and to Elders past, present and emerging.
© 2023 HARI KOTROTSIOS