No, gnomes are not only for Christmas. They exist and are used in many forms all year round such as being used as ornaments in people’s houses and gardens and are always popular in literature and popular culture. In Scandinavia, there are forms of gnomes called Nisse which are associated with Christmas.
The mythology behind these Nisse dates back to the late 18th and 19th centuries in which gnomes were thought to be sprits that inhabited households and were responsible for protecting families, pets and their farms. They also had the job of taking care of things around the home such as cleaning and fixing things and it is thought that they would get a little annoyed when humans did not do what they wanted.
This will be due to a number of factors; possible the main one being that they look very similar to Santa Claus which makes them perfectly placed to be given a Santa-style look. This means giving them a red outfit and the same kind of boots that they big man has every year too. They also have the beard and big belly, of course, which all adds up to them almost looking the same!
Another reason will be that they are great for placing around the house, in addition to being outside, and are fun to look at so people naturally like having them and Christmas is the perfect time to decorate a house with all kinds of lovely ornaments.
As various forms of gnome ornaments are easy to make, people enjoy using them in various ways such as hanging them off trees, as plush ornaments to be placed on a couch alongside cushions, place card holders, and as little fluffy characters that work well alongside napkins.
Gonks are small figures with long beards and knitted hats and many think of them as being the Nordic version of Santa Claus/Father Christmas. Many people say that they are inspired by garden gnomes, particularly those described in Scandanavian folklore and over time they have become more popular amongst the mainstream and this popularity is continuing to increase especially with people more easily able to buy them via the internet.
It is believed that they were first found in tales in the 1600s with many thinking that they originate from the 13th century. Many people associate them with Christmas gnomes even though they are different with their faces being entirely covered by their hat and beard. Their nose is the most distinctive part of their face and they are believed to be responsible for protecting their owner’s home during winter and Christmas.