Why are We Called Elves?

Have you ever wondered why elves at Softsar make your shoes? Well, it all started years ago in a little shoemaker's workshop in Europe. The following is a version of the fabled tale by the Brothers Grimm:

ShoemakerThere was once a shoemaker who worked very hard and was very honest, but still he could not earn enough to live upon. One day, all he had in the world was gone except just enough leather to make one more pair of shoes.

He cut his leather to make into shoes and went to bed, meaning to rise early in the morning to finish his work. His conscience was clear and his heart was light despite all his troubles, so he fell peaceably to sleep and left all his cares to heaven. In the morning, after he had said his prayers, he sat himself down to his work and, to his great wonder, there stood the shoes already made upon the table! The good man knew not what to say or think of such an odd thing happening. He examined the workmanship and could not find a single false stitch; the shoes were truly a masterpiece.

That same day, a customer came into the shop and the shoes suited him so well that he paid a higher price for them than usual. The poor shoemaker used the money to buy enough leather for two more pairs. In the evening, he once again cut out the leather and went to bed early so that he might get up and begin working the next day. Once again, he was saved all the trouble, for when he awoke in the morning the work was already done. Soon customers came and paid him so handsomely for his goods that he bought enough leather for four pairs more. He again cut out the work at night and again found it done in the morning. And so it went for some time—whatever he prepared in the evening was always completed by daybreak, and the good man was soon thriving.

One evening, about Christmastime, the shoemaker and his wife were sitting over the fire chatting together and he said to her, "I should like to sit up and watch tonight, that we may see who it is that comes and does my work for me." The wife liked the thought, so they left a light burning and hid themselves behind a curtain in a corner of the room where they could watch and see what happened.

At midnight, there appeared two naked little elves. They sat themselves upon the shoemaker's bench, took up all the work that was prepared and began to ply with their little fingers. They stitched and rapped and tapped away at such a rate that the shoemaker was all wonder and could not take his eyes off them. On they went, till the job was finished and the shoes stood ready upon the table. They bustled away as quick as lightning, long before daybreak.

The next day, the wife said to the shoemaker, "These little elves have made us rich. We ought to be thankful to them and do them a good turn. I am quite sorry to see them run about as they do, for they have nothing upon their backs to keep off the cold. I will make each of them a shirt, a coat, a waistcoat and a pair of pantaloons, and you make each of them a little pair of shoes."

The thought pleased the good shoemaker very much and they went to work. One evening, when the clothes and shoes were ready, they laid them upon the table in place of the leather that was normally prepared. Then they hid themselves and waited to see what the little elves would do.

The elves again appeared at midnight, dancing and skipping and hopping around the room. They sat down to their work as usual, but when they saw the clothes and shoes lying for them they laughed and chuckled and seemed mightily delighted.

Happy Elves

They dressed themselves in the twinkling of an eye and danced and capered and sprang about, as merry as could be. At last, they danced out the door and away over the green.

The good couple saw the elves no more, but everything went well with them from that time forward as long as they both lived.


So why did the Elves leave?

We have it on good authority that the original German version of this story actually ended a little differently. The German version is called Die Heinzelmännchen von Köln (The little folk of Cologne). In that version, the shoemaker doesn't hide behind a curtain, but instead put dried peas on the steps to cause the mystery workers would slip on them so the shoemaker and his wife could catch them.

After tripping on the peas and being scared by the shoemaker's wife with rollers in her hair, the Heinzelmännchen never reappeared in Cologne—you can well understand after hospitality like that!

Nobody knows where the elves went next, but after a couple centuries of adventures they once again surfaced in the workshops of Softstar, working in the wee hours crafting beautiful shoes for people around the world. And rather than dried peas, we found they prefer to be left some good pints of ale and fudge brownies.