Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Searching for Bell Ringle

Bell Ringle is an elf who delivers on New Years Day the presents that Santa Clause forgot. Or so I have been told.

My wife (like me) is from NW Ohio. Her family has a tradition of Bell Ringle delivering gifts on January 1st. This tradition goes back at least several generations. My wife thinks it goes back four or five generations.

In the old days, the farm families of Ohio would order Christmas gifts via mail catalogs. Delivery dates were always uncertain and many orders intended as Christmas gifts arrived late. As a result, at least in one family, the elf Bell Ringle would deliver late gifts on the first day of the New Year.

While quaint, this tradition has been impacting me through eleven years of marriage. Every year, my wife prepares Bell Ringle gifts for her family and they give her (and me!) Bell Ringle gift as well. In addition, as I take my wife and two sons on the road for Christmas, we give our kids their gifts from us on New Years Day. And of course Bell Ringle is the delivery man.

The family lore is that Bell Ringle is an old German tradition. However, my attempts to research Bell Ringle find nothing. So far, searches for Bell Ringle on the Web bring up zip as do variant searches on the name. Even New Years Elf brings up nothing that is related!

So, is Bell Ringle a new oral history tradition created by my wife's great grandparents? Or, is there some actual history here that I am missing? If anyone finds this post now or years in the future and has information on this, please leave a comment. I would appreciate more details.

Until then, Bell Ringle lives in my family. And I will be seeking out some more details on his origins.


carl said...

My family is of german decent, and we also celebrate the same elf. Although we call him Belschnickel, and not Bell Ringle.

Amy said...

My family is vistited on New Years Eve by a similar elf, although his name is Big Ears. My mother is from Portsmouth, Ohio, and this tradition comes from her side of the family. I have always suspected that my grandparents (or maybe, great grandparents) made up this tradition. Your blog entry is the only evidence that I've found that suggests otherwise. I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and nobody here has ever heard of Big Ears, or any other New Years elf, for that matter. It's exciting to hear about another family that celebrates this tradition. I doubt that it is just a coincidence.