The original Elf on the Shelf doll had a fascinating origin as the Winter Watcher, an all-seeing figure with large eyes that kept a watchful eye over misbehaving children in Eastern Europe. This eerie doll would visit the dreams of wayward kids, revealing visions of Hell’s gates in an attempt to encourage better behavior. In the case of exceptionally naughty children, the Winter Watcher even introduced them to the devil, all in the hopes of steering them onto the right path. Over time, the doll evolved into a smaller figurine, but the tradition eventually faded away in the late 1800s, leaving behind a remarkable piece of folklore that would later inspire the modern Elf on the Shelf tradition.