Garden gnomes ... those wee little folk who wear the red hats and hang out at night helping in gardens around the world.
Some of the wee folk are considered to be more then mere decorations though.
Due to their generally caring disposition and good will, there are those who believe that gnomes found in the garden are considered a sign of prosperity and success and provide good luck.
Although most of the earliest folklore involving gnomes has come out of Sweden, it seems that the first of the garden gnomes were handmade in Gräfenroda, Germany in the mid-1800s.
The wee folk were manufactured there based on local myths and as a way for people to enjoy the stories of the willingness of gnomes to help out in the garden at night.
The idea of gnomes in the garden quickly spread across Germany into France and England, and wherever gardening was a serious hobby.
Today, in gardens around the world, the wee folk have become a popular accent or decoration.
Most of the gnomes that are seen in gardens around the world are typically males with beards. Many can be seen smoking pipes and pursuing various pastimes like fishing or napping.
The unmarried females typically wear a green cap with their hair down in braids. After marrying, the female gnomes wear their hair up in a scarf.
Gnomes also prefer to do most of their work at night. Typically the wee folk will either be helpful or mischievious. At night one of them may spend his time moving objects in the garden around to confuse the gardener.
Mostly it is the younger gnomes that engage in this pranking. The more helpful adults may ensure that plants in a garden are all deadheaded or may care for any ill plants under the light of the moon.
The practice of stealing the wee folk is also sometimes referred to as "Gnome Hunting". These gnomes are often the target of pranks by humans.
People have been known to return the gnomes "to the wild" (beware this activity by members of the 'Garden Gnome Liberation Front’) or even kidnapped the wee folk and sent them on trips around the world.
Today, gnomes for the garden are available in both the traditional terracotta clay and also mass produced in materials such as plastic and resin.
There are some rather cute gnomes now available being mass produced in the plastic and resin materials.
Yet, the original handmade wee folk are often viewed as having real "character", complete with life-like qualities skillfully worked into their facial expressions.
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