"To gnome or not to gnome?” Das ist the question.
Yes, that is German if you’re curious! You may not have even known, but these decorative lawn ornaments have a deep history rooted in German culture. Interestingly enough, there’s much controversy over who the first garden gnome producer actually was, but it’s been reported that Philipp Griebel was the first to make a ceramic version of the garden gnome in the middle of the nineteenth century. His factory was in Gradfenroda, a town in Thuringia, Germany. The garden gnome phenomena rapidly spread across Germany and other European cities. The industry was hit hard during World War II, because Communist police believed the statues were conduits for smugglers. However, the garden gnome overcame the hardships of the time, eventually becoming the leading export in Eastern Germany.
The idea of the mystical gnomes we know today first appeared in European literature as chthonic spirits that would come alive at night to reward workers for their good behavior. They’d work in famers’ fields and merchants’ shops to help lighten the workload. Sometimes they were even depicted as guards who’d protect mines or prized possessions, and some people believed in their ability to ward off thieves from stealing grains and vegetables. Now, it’s no wonder why people would choose to display these protective creatures in their treasured gardens.
Fun Gnome Facts:
- Lawn gnomes only become “active” at night helping you maintain your garden.
- Gnomes kiss by rubbing noses, a greeting equivalent to human handshaking.
- Gnomes have a life expectancy of 400 years.
- Male gnomes can be identified by their red caps.
- Gnomes are peaceful creatures whose main enemies – besides the slow-witted troll – are humans who destroy the natural environment.
Do you have any interesting garden gnomes at your house? How big is your collection?