Northern countries are rife with legends and stories about mythical creatures, such as mermaids or gnomes. Elves are also mentioned, and they are generally described as spirits or air genies.
An elf is a mythical creature that lives alongside humans. The only problem is that we can't see them as they are invisible to our eyes, except for when they want to be seen. Initially, they had the reputation of being evil, and they would have the same job as The Bogeyman: scaring misbehaved children.
With the passing of the years, elves became good-natured and friendlier, and there are even traditions that suggest that on Christmas, Santa manages to prepare all the gifts with the help of elves.
Northern mythology depicts them as beautiful and powerful creatures, demi-gods, related to our ancestors and fertility. In Germanic mythology, however, elves are described as living in the sky even though there were mentions of elves that lived underground too.
Due to poorly translated stories, elves are commonly mistaken for gnomes, goblins, fairies, and dwarfs. The common trait shared among these creatures is their human-like appearance, although their sizes can vary.
If you're keen on finding a place where people believe in elves, do not hesitate to plan a trip to Iceland. More than half of the Icelandic population believes in their existence!
It's not just superstition: during the '70s, construction of a highway in the suburbs of the city Reikiavik had to be diverted to avoid a hill where elves lived! According to reports, during construction, most of the machines broke down for no apparent reason, and all sorts of random accidents took place.
Some Icelanders keep piled up rocks in their gardens, which are supposedly inhabited by them and they mark random stones in the wild, that are also meant to be dwelling places for the mythical creatures.
If you're visiting Iceland, don't forget to visit ‘Elfschool,’ a school about elves that you can visit and learn a million and one things about these mythical creatures.
Norway and Denmark are two other countries that have strong elf traditions, with numerous stories of king elves and women elves.
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How much do you know about elves? Here are some interesting facts
The word ''elf'' has the power of teleporting many of us into Tolkien's ''Lord of The Rings'' with its many mythical creatures. The author drew inspiration from Scandinavian legends, and perhaps now you understand why Tolkien's elves were always tall and fair-haired.
As we discovered earlier, elves are invisible unless they want to be seen. There are, however, other sources which indicate that they live among us, by snatching newborns and swapping them with elf babies! Trolls and fairies are also known to do this.
Almost all legendary creatures have an enhanced human trait, like the gnomes' strength. Elves have incredible vision, and they only need a bit of light to make out shapes and objects, a skill that comes in handy when they are trying to navigate thick, dark forests or when they need to travel during the darkest of nights.
Each mythical creature has a specific skill, such as mining in the dwarfs' case. Due to their lifelong, intense military training, elves are described as being excellent archers and swordsmen. They can fight with short or long swords, and their agility allows them to fire multiple bows at a time with little to no effort.
Don't be fooled into thinking elves are always ready for a war! They also enjoy poetry, music, and dance.
Usually, elves are described as wearing green clothes. Considering that they live in nature, this offers camouflage should they feel threatened. Elves tend to live in campsites, together with one or two of their elders, and they are governed by simple rules.
Depending on their main traits, we have distinguished four categories of elves. The most common ones are known as tall elves, there are also forest elves (with darker complexions and blonde or red hair), grey elves (on account of their silver hair) and dark elves (skilled strategists with dark skin and hair). We can also mention the half-elves, resulted from the union of a human and an elf. Elves tend to live for hundreds of years while half-elves only live up to around 125 years of age.
In 2017, Argentinian born Louis Padrón became famous due to his passion for elves. The 25-year-old man spent almost 40,000 euros on plastic surgery to look like an elf. Among other procedures, he bleached his skin and hair, had liposuction, changed his hairline and had botox injections. The young Argentinian is aware that not everyone can understand his need to look like an elf, but he has requested that people respected his desire to transform into what he desires.