Scandi gnomes, tomte gnomes, Nordic gnomes and, of course, Whidbey Island Gnomes - call them what you may, but these mythical creatures have finally made their way over to our shores.
Whether you are of Scandinavian decent or not, Scandi Gnomes with their pointy hats, big noses and busy beards are sure to find a place in your heart and your life.
History of Scandi Gnomes
In Scandinavia, gnome are “Tomte” in Swedish, or “Nisser” in Norway and Tonttu in Finland. It is believed by Scandinavians that they’re responsible for the welfare and protection of a farmstead and its buildings.
In fact, some people believe gnomes originally come from the soul of the first person to own the farm.
Scandi gnomes have a love for tradition, they don’t like change. They are ancestral figures who demand respect. Farms were often isolated and inhabitants lived through long, dark winters. This gave many long dark nights for these mythical creates to spring from imaginations and become companions to keep solitude at bay.
Historically, the Scandi gnome has been a solitary character, not social. The belief in the gnome has been widespread in Scandinavian countries and to this day Sweden still has stories of him.
From the fairytales of Hans Christian Anderson to the Tomten poem by Viktor Rydberg and the artwork of Jenny Nystrom, the Scandi gnome is in so many ways a part of the Scandinavian mythological soul.
What do Scandi Gnomes look like?
A Scandi gnomes is described as an older, little man about the size of a young child. He wears old often ragged clothes, usually gray or navy, and sports a bright red cap on his head. He resides in the pantry or barn and watches over the household and farm. He is responsible for the care of the farm animals, especially the horses.
Depending on where you go in Scandinavia, some gnomes can have different characteristics based on the color of clothing they wear. The ones living in the stables would usually wear grey clothes. Those living in the main house would dress more neatly, with blue and dark green clothing.
Scandinavian gnomes always have beards that stretch over their chests, some of these beards are twisted into a point at the end, whereas others are a little more wild and rugged – like the beard of a lumberjack.
Throughout Denmark and Norway, some stories suggest that gnomes are well versed in magic, and they know how to cast illusions or make themselves invisible.
Scandi Christmas Gnomes
In Scandinavia, gnomes manifest during the holidays to protect land from evil forces like elves during Christmas time celebrations. You get a bowl of porridge with butter (gnomes adore butter) ready for your gnome on Christmas Eve, and hope they would become your friend. If the bowl is empty the next morning all will be well for another year. If you don’t give the gnome their porridge, they might get upset and start playing pranks on you and your family.
Legend has it that one Christmas eve, a servant girl decided to play a trick on the gnome. She hid the butter for his porridge at the bottom of the bowl. When the gnome saw there was no butter on his Christmas porridge, he went to the shed and killed the best cow. He wanted to show them that he did not appreciate being begrudged a little bit of butter. He returned to the barn to eat the porridge anyway. When he discovered the butter at the bottom of the bowl, he felt so bad that he walked to the neighbor's farm, took their best cow, and led her back to the stable of the cow he had killed.
The moral of the story is, don't mess with the gnome at Christmas. Be generous with the butter!
Scandi Gnome names
If you would like to invite a gnome into your home (and we hope you will choose one of our Whidbey Island Gnomes), you will want to name it. If you are a traditionalist, choose a Scandi name - here are some names to consider: