Garden gnomes depicting violent acts or that are sexually explicit are being sold at a popular Christmas fair and crafts show in Birmingham, England, which has church leaders and parents upset.
Those angered at organizers for allowing the macabre gnome displays say the family atmosphere at the Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Fair is being ruined, according to news reports from the U.K.
The ornaments include some garden gnomes covered in blood, holding severed heads, and hanging from a noose. At the booth, an “adults only” section hidden behind a curtain contains a sexually explicit collection, according to the U.K.’s Sunday Mercury.
“It’s appalling and irresponsible,” said Bishop Joe Aldred from a church in Birmingham. “The message at this time of year should be about peace on earth and not sex and violence.”
“It’s likely that a lot of young people will be going to this event, and it seems wholly inappropriate to have this sort of material on sale. Frankly, I can’t think of anywhere that I would be comfortable with seeing this sort of thing being offered,” Aldred said.
“It’s just not right, it’s completely irresponsible, and certainly not in keeping with Christmas,” he added.
The Frankfurt fair, which has been part of Birmingham’s Christmas tradition for the last 11 years, is billed as the largest authentic German market outside Germany and Austria and the centerpiece of the city’s festival. Birmingham and Frankfurt are sister cities.
Birmingham’s website on the event, which opened Thursday and runs through Dec. 23, states: “Traditional stalls offer a wonderful array of beautiful handmade toys, Christmas decorations, original jewellery and craft goods as well as a carousel to keep younger visitors entertained.”
It is expected that up to two million people will visit the fair to sample and purchase German-made food, drink and products.
One angry father attending with his young son said he was appalled by the gnomes, according to the Mercury.
“There are kiddies running about everywhere, which means they’ll be able to see a gnome stabbed in the back, and another that has been decapitated,” he said. “It’s like a hideous Halloween horror show and certainly not the Christmas cuteness you’d expect.”
A Birmingham City Council spokeswoman reportedly said the city is taking action to have the exhibitor remove the gnomes from public view.
The Mercury reported that a Romanian man working the booth said that about 20 gnomes were being sold per day, priced at £12 to £25.