In a number of northern European countries, Christmas gnomes are called Nisse. The mythology behind these creatures dates back to the late 18th and 19th centuries in which gnomes were thought to be sprits that inhabited households and were responsible for protecting families, pets and their farms. They also had the job of taking care of things around the home such as cleaning and fixing things and it is thought that they would get a little annoyed when humans did not do what they wanted.
Over the course of time they have become more and more associated with Christmas and are credited with being the bringers of presents. While elves, which are thought to live in the North Pole, it is thought that Christmas gnomes leave their homes in the forest on Christmas Day to deliver the presents that they have made to children.
What is the Story Behind Gnomes?
The first person who described gnomes as magical creatures was the Swiss alchemist Paracelsus during the 16th century. Paracelsus claimed that gnomes come out at night to help plants grow and ensure a successful harvest. He classified them as earth elementals (a mythic being) where they are associated with loyalty, hard work and bravery and can move through the Earth the same way sirens move through water. His beliefs are very similar to folklore as gnomes are known to be creatures that take care of vegetation and are very talented harvesters.
In European folklore, gnomes guard precious treasures hidden within the Earth. Many argue that modern day gnomes are largely inspired by Scandinavians. It is said they took inspiration from Bavarian miners who wore padded pointy red hats to protect them from falling rocks and indicated when the roof was too low.