"The Elves and the Shoemaker" is a fairy tale collected in the first volume of Children's and Household Tales (German: Kinder- und Hausmärchen) (1812) by the Brothers Grimm. It is the first of three stories in the 39th entry called "The Elves" (German: "Die Wichtelmänner").
In the story, a poor shoemaker cuts the last piece of leather he has left before going to bed. In the morning, he finds the shoes finished, with such fine craftsmanship that they sell for a good price and allow him to buy enough leather to make two pairs of shoes. The mysterious helper returns every night, and the shoemaker soon becomes a rich man. One night, the shoemaker decides to stay up to find out who is helping him.
"The Elves and the Shoemaker" has been adapted to other media many times, and it is widely referenced in popular culture.
A poor shoemaker finds himself with only enough leather left to make one pair of shoes. He cuts the leather before going to bed. The next morning, he is surprised to find the shoes finished. The shoes are so well-made that a customer buys them for more than the usual price. The shoemaker is able to buy enough leather for two pairs of shoes. He cuts the leather before going to bed and again finds the shoes all finished in the morning. The shoes fetch good prices and the shoemaker is able to buy enough leather for four pairs of shoes. This continues and the shoemaker soon becomes a rich man.
One evening before Christmas, the shoemaker decides to stay up to see who is helping him make the shoes. At midnight, as the shoemaker and his wife watch from a hiding place, two small naked elves appear. The elves stitch up the shoes skillfully then run away when they are finished.
The next morning, the shoemaker's wife makes tiny clothes for the elves to thank them for their help. The shoemaker also makes two pairs of tiny shoes as gifts for the elves. Then they put their gifts on the table and hide to see what the elves will do. At midnight, the elves come and find the gifts instead of the usual leather cutouts. They put on the clothes and the shoes then sing and dance around in delight. They dance out of the house and are never seen again. Nevertheless, all goes well with the shoemaker and his wife for the rest of their lives.