Over the years, some rather outlandish styles have emerged in holiday decor. Practically overnight, the pineapple became an unlikely December staple, and then this year, we've seen Christmas trees of all different colors pop up as well as some other.... interesting fads. According to Google Trends, there has been a significantly high search volume for 'Christmas gnomes' during the last couple months of 2019, and frankly I am not too thrilled about it. When there are such darling Santa and reindeer figurines available, why are people opting to bring these bulbous-nosed, stout little men into the home?
I had to do some research because despite all the spiked eggnog I down every holiday season, I couldn't recall ever hearing about a Christmas story or movie that involved gnomes. Well, as it turns out, gnomes actually came to us from Scandinavia, as so many home trends do.
In northern European countries, they often go by the name Nisse, and are typically depicted as short men or women donning red caps. The folklore traces back to the late 18th and 19th centuries, when gnomes were believed to be household spirits responsible for the care and prosperity of a farm or family. They were tasked with various chores around the home, and might act out when the humans didn't cater to their little gnome needs.
While their origins play into many different narratives throughout history, they've become tied with Christmas, where they serve as present bearers. Unlike the elves of other cultures, which reside at the North Pole, legend has it that gnomes pop out of their forests niches come Christmas Day, and walk through the front doors of homes to hand-deliver presents. How they are able to break into people's homes with their giant hats covering their eyes remains a mystery to me.
So yes, that's how these little guys became associated with the greatest holiday of the year. While their backstory does give me more insight on why I've been seeing so many of these tiny people this holiday season (literally so easy to spot with their obnoxiously tall pointy hats!), I'm still left wildly uncomfortable by their eye-less, mouth-less visages. As numerous big-name retailers like Target and Pottery Barn continue to push out gnome ornaments, figurines, and plushes this holiday, I'll stick to my Santa Claus, reindeer, and snowmen decor, thank you very much. Good tidings to all!
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