For twenty years, Tolkien wrote and illustrated an annual letter from Father Christmas to his children. The letters, penned in Father Christmas’s shaky calligraphy, told the story of the goings-on at the North Pole during the previous year. Usually, North Polar Bear, Father Christmas’s bumbling assistant, would cause catastrophes of varying severity, from setting off the aurora borealis fireworks to cracking the North Pole (literally a tall pillar of, I suppose, ice) so that it fell down on Christmas House. There were also adventures with the Snow-men, the Goblins, and the Red Elves. The Red Elves, also referred to as the Red Gnomes, spoke a special dialect called “Arctic”, a variant of Quenya, the tongue of the High Elves of Middle-earth. One of the Red Elves, Ilbereth, became Father Christmas’s secretary in the later letters, and the Red Elves also acted as Father Christmas’s general helpers, in particular against the pesky Goblins. To aid them in this endeavour, Father Christmas equipped them with magic sparkler spears, which he said would be sure to scare the Goblins out of their wits!
This Red Elf has been assigned to help prepare for Father Christmas’s annual Christmas feast. As the name of her kind suggests, she loves to wear vivid, cheerful red, but she also wears contrasting bright green in honour of her people’s cousins, the Green Elves (some of whom still live in northern Norway). Her fur-trimmed hat and flask are decorated with the leaves of her favourite plant: the ever-green, red-berried holly. In the light of the low arctic sun, which never more than peeps above the horizon, she has managed to string up glittering lights, prepare huge ice-sculptures shaped like swans, set out the dining tables, and hang festive banners but, like all Red Elves, she turns everything into a game! There is still much to be done, but she would rather take a few nips from her festive wineskin, eat shortbread, sing carols, and play with her amazing magic sparkler, provided by Father Christmas himself. No doubt everything will get sorted out in the end, but who knows what mischief the Red Elves and North Polar Bear will get up to this year?
This year, I’m stepping out of Middle-earth just a little for my holiday post, but not too far! The stories in Tolkien’s Christmas letters are very sweet and funny and can be found collected in the delightful book Letters From Father Christmas, if you’re interested. I thought of the letters when I saw the sparkler toys from this year’s in-game Yule festival, which reminded me of the magic sparkler spears of Father Christmas’s Red Elves. While taking the screenshots for this post, I noticed that the sparklers leave subtle light trails if your character waves them about, just like the real thing! You can faintly see the effect in the second picture in this post.
Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and all the season’s greetings, everyone!
Very best wishes in 2013!
- Head: Wintry Yule Cap (looted — Yule festival/Sack of Presents), yellow
- Shoulders: Yule Scarf (bartered — Yule festival barter vendor/cosmetic clothing), red
- Back: Summerdays Cloak (bartered — Lithe festival summer rewards vendor/cosmetics), crimson
- Chest: Short Dwarf-make Robe (looted — anniversary event/Elegant Gift Box), forest green
- Hands: Extravagant Festival Gloves (quest reward — Yule festival  Gain and Glory: Assist the Rich), red
- Feet: Treasure-hunter’s Shoes (crafted — tailor T6), red
- Implement: Yule Sparkler (bartered — Yule festival barter vendor/festival rewards)
- Implement: Festive Wine Skin (bartered — Yule festival barter vendor/festival rewards)
Tips: The Wintry Yule Cap that I used is the one that drops from the Sack of Presents earned from the daily Yule festival quest which requires you to participate in festival activities. If you don’t have this version, you could substitute the version from the barter vendor, which has a slightly different shape and has the holly sprig positioned at the back rather than the front of the hat. The Short Dwarf-make Robe drops from gift boxes during the anniversary event, but you can find it quite often at the auction house.
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