Garden gnomes didn’t gain worldwide popularity until the 1937 Disney film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” but the common garden figurines have been a part of German history since the 19th century.
And in honor of Germany’s Garden Day on Monday, Google has created a fun garden gnome interactive game for its homepage, giving users the chance to catapult the folklore icons into their gardens to earn flower points.
According to the Google doodle blog, the red-capped gnomes (or “gartenzwerg”) originated in the German mining area of Thuringia and were built by local craftsmen.
“Propelled by local myths and increased leisure time, the gnomes began to find homes in gardens throughout the country. Legend has it they protect these gardens and bring good luck,” Google experts noted.
Even today, people visiting Germany are likely to come across small settlements with tiny houses and garden gnomes. These allotment gardens are often given German names, such as a “Schrebergarten,” “Kleingartenanlage” or “Gartenkolonie.” Locals often rent these small allotments to do their gardening, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
But while the figures as we know them are a significant part of Germany’s history, a version of the ornaments actually first appeared in 13th century Anatolia (now Turkey) and then gained popularity in 16th-century Italy.
For Monday’s creative gnome game, Google doodle artist Gerben Steenks considered Germany’s long history in wood carving, folklore, village architecture and gardens.
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