We are coming up on Valentine’s Day, a day for x’s and o’s and hearts… and gnomes? Yes, the little guys with long beards and pointy hats have been a hot ticket in home decor for several years now and they show no signs of slowing down. These little men (and women) are not the gnomes of days gone by. They have moved out of the garden and into the house to perch on bookshelves, benches, and beyond. One look at Instagram and you get a good feel for the continued popularity of these tiny harbingers of good fortune.
The Origin of Gnomes
Gnomes come to us via Northern European legend. According to the New World Encyclopedia, 16th-century Swiss alchemist Paracelsus proclaimed that gnomes were nature spirits made of earth elementals. The magical creatures became popular after popping up as garden figurines in Germany and then in the United States through immigration. Originally, the figures were meant to protect the crops in farmers’ fields, and that legend transferred to home gardens.
Early versions of gnomes were less attractive than the ones we see today. They originally were more like goblins than humans. Over time their depiction moved more toward that of a miniature person with very human mannerisms and wisdom. Today’s gnomes tend to have long, white beards for the males and both the males and females sport the signature conical hat that gnomes are known for. It’s no wonder that people can’t get enough of them!
The Appealing Versatility
For some Instgrammers, their love of gnomes has become more than a collection. Deanne of Adorable Gnomes found her calling with the magical creatures. “I’ve always loved gnomes and a few years ago, I bought a bunch of mass-produced gnomes from some big retailers,” she says. “I thought they were cute, but was disappointed in the quality. So I started making my own and friends and relatives loved them and asked me to make more. Three years later, it’s become a pretty big business.”
Miranda of Smacker Tracker is hooked. “Gnomes are everywhere in every season and style, and it’s kind of hard not to buy them,” she says. “They have been super trendy for a couple years now and I can see why. We all love to display them in our photos or on our shelves.”
“I think they are so popular because they work well with every season and you can add fun, holiday-themed items for them to hold,” Deanne says. “Gnomes have been around since the early 1800s, and they are as popular as ever, so they definitely have staying power. Plus, gnomes are said to bring you good luck and in these challenging times, we can all use a little extra luck.”
Christmas was prime gnome time, from ornaments on the tree, plush figures as soft as pillows around the house, even a 4-foot inflatable for your lawn. Perhaps it’s because of their more-than-passing resemblance to the big man himself: Santa Claus!
An Enduring Trend
“Gnomes definitely are here to stay,” Crystal of Crystal MN Creations says. “The joy they bring to holidays, birthdays, and general home or office decor is like nothing else. I always say there is a gnome for every home! Pair a gnomie with your favorite bag of coffee, bottle of wine or basket of treats and all your gift-giving needs are met!”
Crystal also points to the infinite customization options for gnomes’ continued popularity. “It really gives each one their own fun, funky and unique personality.”
And let’s face it: They are just adorable. “Gnomes are just so cute and enduring and somewhat of a mystery,” says Ronda Wilson-Harmon of Lola’s Gnomes. “I mean with that hat pulled down over their eyes, it's anyones guess what they are really thinking! Tiered trays and hutch decor is really fun and gnomes fit right into that.
“Gnomes pull you in like teddy bears! They appeal to all of us, adults and kids too, they have a way of just making you smile!” says Wilson-Harmon. “Creating gnomes that people just love and can't wait to use in their homes and their decor is my absolute favorite, knowing our gnomes made someone's day just a tiny bit brighter is really where it's at for me!”