What comes to mind when you think of Christmastime? Gifts, lights, carols, and Santa Claus are all likely high on the list. But what about the little helpers who Santa depends on - the elves? They're a big part of Christmas lore too, so much so that they've appeared in nearly as many movies and TV shows as Old Saint Nick. But do you know where the tradition of Christmas elves originates from? Let's take a look at some of the stories behind these little fellows and learn more about a part of Christmas that is often overlooked. The elves are rooted in the folklore of Britain as well as Northern Europe and are featured in numerous countries' folktales including Germanic, Scandinavian, and British tales. In most of these stories, the elves are generally small creatures, male and female, who are immortal and have magical powers. They may be good or evil - though obviously, the ones that found their way into our Christmas tales are from the 'good' camp. Elves were originally believed to be guardians of homes, protecting from evil. If you were good, they would be fair and nice to you. But if you were a bad person, they would play tricks on you such as giving you nightmares. Over the years, people would leave porridge on the doorstep for the elves to keep them fed and happy - and keep them from causing mischief. But what about today's Christmas elves? Elves began being linked to Christmas in the mid to late 1800s. They moved from being little helpers in the homes of those who were good to being helpers of Santa, who would then reward those who were good all year long. As Christmas grew in popularity and spread throughout the world, elves became more and more entrenched into the holiday. Writers like Thile, Rydberg, and Toplius began to put the elves into their current roles that we know of today. While artists like Hansen and Nystrm, gave us images that we could link to the stories. Quickly, elves began to be the helpers that Santa needed to work his holiday magic, while also keeping an eye on children and making sure that those who were good all year long were able to get presents. From there, the myths kept growing thanks to depictions in movies, TV shows, and even televisions commercials. All of these things helped conjure up the images that we all associate with elves today - small creatures that are often dressed in green and red with pointy ears and high-pitched voices. From the classic Claymation Rudolph show to the Will Ferrell film "Elf", plenty of modern interpretations have become synonymous with elves. Elf on the shelf has helped make elves even more popular than ever before, and every year the book and the accompanying elf appear in homes around the world. The creatures also continue to show up on TV screens each year. Now you know that these funny magical creatures have a history that goes all the way back to the 9th century. Make sure to help pass along their magic to the next generation of Christmas lovers by incorporating them into your Christmas traditions.