Germany’s Ore Mountains bask in Christmas cheer all year round, and when it’s actually Christmas, transcend all imaginable levels of beauty and transform into a surreal enchanted land. When you buy a handmade souvenir from the land of perennial Christmas, you are not only carrying back home an authentic souvenir, but showing your support and appreciation for special folk art.
The Smoking Man (or Räuchermann) has been a Christmas tradition in the Ore Mountains since 1850, and his popularity has only increased over the centuries. The Smoking Men are little wooden figurines stuffed with incense, that blow smoke out throught their mouth when lit. Smoking Men are modeled on father Christmas, miners, craftsmen, foresters or native townsfolk of the Ore Mountain region. In fact, don’t be surprised to see Incense Smokers in the shape of houses, dragons or dinosaurs! Incense for Smoking Men come in a variety of fragrances, including pine, honey and cinnamon, among others. There is even a museum dedicated to Smoking Men in the town of Sehmatal-Cranzahl.
Nutcrackers are the star attraction of Christmas markets all across the country, but their origin is believed to be the Ore Mountains. For over 150 years, the skilled artisans of this region have laboriously hand-crafted these beauties in an astounding range of shapes, sizes and styles. Popular subjects are famous personalities, soldiers, foresters, miners and doctors, but the list goes on and on.
During Christmas it’s virtually impossible to spot a house in the Ore Mountains that doesn’t have a beautiful twinkling candle arch at the window. Traditionally illuminated in honor of miners who rarely saw any light, Christmas candle arches are carved from wood and display intricate patterns and figurines. You can also find adorable candle arches with rotating carousels or twirling figures powered by candle-flame.
Ore Mountains is the place to shop for Christmas ornaments. Expect to be bewildered by an eclectic range of tiny pink-cheeked wooden angels, fairy-tale characters, lovely animals, Santa Claus figurines, snowmen, red-nosed reindeer, elves with pointed hats, carolers, silver snowflakes, trees, ball figures, and lots more, each more adorable than the last.
Wooden Christmas pyramids are an essential part of households in the Ore Mountains. When the candles in the pyramid are illuminated, the tiers of the pyramid turn slowly, creating a beautiful play of light and shadow in the room. Most Christmas markets in this region have at least one towering Christmas pyramid. These pyramids are available in several sizes (from one-tiered to six-tiered or taller), price ranges and with varied kinds of figurines.
When in the town of Seiffen, you would be forgiven for wondering if you have stepped into Toy Town. The streets, houses and buildings of this town are peppered with wooden figurines ranging in size from less than an inch to several feet high. This town has been the hub of wooden toy making in the Ore Mountains even when the mining industry was in full swing, and the art has been passed on from generation to generation. Do visit the Spielzeugmuseum Seiffen for a fascinating journey through the history and present of Seiffen toy-making. We bet you can’t leave town without buying several of these cuties. Seiffen is also a great place to pick up Christmas decorations, pyramids, candle arches and nutcrackers.
Lace-making is almost as important for the region’s history as wood-carving. Traditionally, while the men carved wood, the womenfolk weaved magic with threads. Lace produced in the Ore Mountains has been used for festive clothing as well as home furnishing since the Middle Ages. A huge workforce in the Ore Mountains is still engaged in lace-making, mostly for inland trade. When in Ore Mountains, why not pick up a few rolls of intricately designed lace to add some traditional German touch to your clothes or home decor back home?
Since 1986, the Trinks family based in the picturesque resort town of Oberwiesenthal in the Ore Mountains has been engaged in creating irresistible beauties out of wicker. Visit their store to browse an eclectic collection of lovingly handmade wicker baskets, rattan furniture, lamps and more. Many of their items are enhanced with wood, metal and glass pieces. They are happy to customize these items as per your preferences, so you can be sure that you are picking up an authentic and absolutely-exclusive souvenir. You can also request a tour of the workshop and even sign up for a basket-weaving course.
Oberwiesenthaler Str.62, 09484 Kurort Oberwiesenthal, +49 37348 8864.