Top Hats and TalesYou know gnomes. By now I’m sure you’ve seen the Travelocity ads on TV in which a garden gnome’s many trips around the globe either make you want to travel—or not. “Gnome-napped”—as the fad is called—the gnome has been taken from his owner’s garden, popping up in a number of countries, and like a true gnome he spins tales about his adventures. Though I don’t know if all gnomes have a posh British accent.

Or possibly, you’re an “Amelie” fan, a movie in which one of the sub-plots involves a garden gnome that travels in place of Amelie’s unhappy father. Then again, you may be more familiar with them in your grandmother’s garden or tucked into a corner of her home.

Even though gnomes are the epitome of kitsch, they do have their believers, who have given them an actual history depending on where the gnome is from. One version has gnomes originating in Scandinavia and migrating south 1,500 years ago. They are usually anywhere between 8 to 24 inches tall and the male gnomes wear red, peaked hats, while unmarried female gnomes wear green caps. Gnomes love animals—they’re vegetarians—but don’t like cats. Trolls are their enemies. Garden gnomes enjoy telling tales, house gnomes are smart and speak our language. There are other gnomes: Forest, Dune, Farm, and Siberian (who are allegedly the white trash of gnome-dom). Gnomes oversee all the mineral treasures of the earth.

And, placing a gnome in your home and garden brings good luck—and who wouldn’t like a little bit of that?