In American folklore, a Christmas elf is a diminutive creature (elf) that lives with Santa Claus in the North Pole and acts as his helper. Christmas elves are often depicted as green or red clad with pointy ears and pointy hats. Santa’s elves are often said to make the toys in Santa’s workshopand take care of his reindeer, among other tasks.
They were first introduced in literature by Louisa May Alcott in 1856. The Santa Claus character is much older, emerging in US folklore in the early 17th century from an amalgamation of various European Christmas traditions, especially from English Father Christmas and Dutch Sinterklaas. The association of Christmas presents with elves has precedents in the first half of the 19th century with the Tomte in Sweden and Nisse in Denmark, and St Nicholas himself is called an elf in A Visit from St. Nicholas (1823).