Legend: Gnomes

My informant K is a good friend of mine and their entire family loves gnomes, their mom most of all. They have a variety of different gnomes in all shapes and sizes in their front and back yards and they believe them to be a good luck charm. They also have special gnomes for every holiday, like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and they even have pink gnomes for Valentine’s Day. K was born in Sweden and they have a lot of family that live there still, so Swedish culture is a big part of their family. K told me that in Sweden, gnomes are called “tomtes” or “nisses” and they are house gnomes who live under your house and protect buried treasure.

I always found K’s story about gnomes so interesting because I didn’t even know what a gnome was before I moved to Canada and I never would have guessed how important they were in some cultures. K told me that when they were younger, their parents told them and their younger sister stories about how gnomes bury treasure in the bushes every winter, and their parents would hide gold coins for them to find. They would even put out little dishes of food for the gnomes. I think it’s really amazing how their culture is able to bond their entire family together. K said that they would decorate and set up gnomes together, or gift them to each other for birthdays or as Christmas gifts.