Therefore I shall do my very best to draw as many gnomes as possible this month and share them along with some Danish folklore stories with you, all while working on fulfilling my recent Kickstarter for The Year of the Unicorn. It is going to be a busy, fun month!
Gnomes have a very special place in my heart. I grew up with gnomes, I believed in gnomes before Santa (you see in Denmark gnomes are closely associates with yuletide, though in folklore they were around all year) and I believed in gnomes after I stopped believing in Santa. Over the years I also amassed quite a collection of books on the subject, both in Danish and English.
Let us start this month with some gnome facts:
Gnomes are also known as Nisse (Danish & Norwegian), Tomte & Tomtenissen (Swedish), Brownie and Hobgoblin (Britain & Ireland) and Tonttu (Finland).
The early stories of the gnomes are traced back to pre-Christian times. They were guardian spirits of farms or souls of the farm and had to be appeased to ensure good fortune. The gnomes were usually loners, each farm only had one, and mischievous to a fault. They bonded closely with the animals, unless the farmer enraged them in which case they might cast a pox on the cows or pigs. They are said to be especially fond of horses.
While the stories of them date back to the viking age, the very first illustration found of a gnome portrays him as a devil figure sweeping the horse stables and was done in 1539. It wasn't until the 1800s that female gnomes were first portrayed in art.
To this day Scandinavians still have a tradition of putting a bowl of porridge outside the door at Christmas Eve to appease the gnome.
Happy Gnomevember everyone, now let's draw some gnomes!