The festive season is approaching and children all over are anxiously waiting for their piles of boxes. In Finnish culture children are told to behave well or else the lurking gnomes will see and the almighty Santa won’t bring any presents on Christmas eve. Such cruelty!

Therefore, I decided to write a post about the different types of gnomes, just to keep all you naughty one’s on your toes. If you catch a red pointy hat flashing behind your window, you know you’ve been seen.

Types of gnomes


Woodland (or forest) gnome

“Woodland gnome is probably the most common type of gnome. However, this is extremely hard to confirm, because he doesn’t enjoy showing up to people and has numerous ways of escaping.”

Quick at their feet, and helped by the forest animals, they sometimes catch a ride from a fox or a bird. There’s your movie.

Dune (or beach) gnome


Sand and beaches aren’t exactly the first thing to come in mind when thinking of gnomes. This I didn’t even know existed: “The dune gnome is a fraction larger than the woodland gnome. He, too, avoids contact with man. His clothing is sometimes notably drab. The female of this gnome type does not wear gray clothes; hers are khaki-colored.”

Sounds like a regular beach bum to me. I bet these ones have a tan, too.

Garden gnome

“Garden gnome is of the usual type. He lives in old gardens, even those at the outskirts of town, squeezed between the blocks of flats. He is often gloomy and gladly shares his melancholic stories. If he feels too closed in, he simply moves to the forest. But, while he is quite learned, he doesn’t always enjoy himself there.”

I’m just wondering who is he telling these “melancholic” stories to? Who are the willing listeners? I’ve seen these tens of times, standing in the darkest backyard corners, silently stalking. Never saying a word.


Farm gnome

“Farm gnome resembles the house gnome, but is more stable and fairly conservative in all matters.”

A boring fellow, one might add, reminds me of an amish somehow. Not that gnomes are particularly tech-oriented anyway. But what does he do at winter time?

House gnome

“The house gnome is a special sort. He resembles an ordinary gnome, but he has the most knowledge of mankind. While living in old historic houses he has heard and seen the lives of rich and the poor. He speaks and understands best the language of humans, and among them are chosen the kings of gnomes.”

So basically, these fellows could be walking among us, and we wouldn’t even notice. They’d be just like any normal hipster with their long beards and eccentric clothes, showing off with some random trivia.

“All gnomes mentioned above are goodwilling, and while ready for small pranks, they are never malevolent, with some very rare exceptions. If a gnome is mean – one in a thousand – it’s because of crossbreeding in remote areas.”

This is extremely good news and I understand the pranks and teasing, but what is all this crossbreeding stuff? Sounds a bit racist to me.


Siberian gnome

The Siberian gnome has been the most affected by crossbreeding. He’s much bigger than European gnomes and is in too good relations with trolls. In some areas there is not a single gnome to be trusted. He takes revenge on people for the smallest of reasons and causes death of cattle, loss of harvest, dryness, hard freeze and so on.

Hell, you have to be a tough one to survive in Siberia, though I had no idea the hard freeze could also be caused by gnomes. Who would trust a gnome anyway?

Kätevä emäntä: Saunatonttu
Kätevä emäntä: Saunatonttu

Sauna gnome

“Sauna gnome is the most photogenic of gnomes: plump, red-cheeked, mostly naked and flashing-eyed.”

Sauna gnomes are not malicious by nature and as long as you do your bathing properly – not too loudly, disrespectfully or annoyingly – the sauna gnome will honor you and keep your bottles and cans of beer safe from the birch demons while you bathe.

Leven en werken van de Kabouter © 1976 Unieboek B.V./Van Holkema & Warendorf, Bussum, The Netherlands
Translations by me from the Finnish version Suuri Tonttukirja © 1980 WSOY.

Masks of Eris: Romancing the sauna gnome