The One with Erzgebirgische Volkskunst / a Christmas Shop in Muggendorf

Friday, December 19, 2014

Yesterday morning a few of the ladies headed an hour away to the town of Muggendorf to a Christmas shop called Erzgebirgische Volkskunst - specializing in handmade crafts from the Ore Mountains (Erzebirge) of Germany.
We kind of live in a little bubble in our town because it's US-government owned so it feels a bit like we're in America. But drive 5 minutes away and I'm instantly transported back into the wonderland that is Deutschland. Half-timbered buildings and charm to boot!
Inside we were immediately drawn to all of the hundreds, no, thousands, maybe even millions!, of adorable trinkets and knick knacks. A screenshot of some of the things they have available in their cute shop, half in German, half in English :)
Where to start?!

Schwibbögen | Candle Arches
Some info about Schwibbögen/Smokers - they are decorative candle-holders from the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) region of Saxony, Germany. The first metal Schwibbögen was made in 1740 in Johanngeorgenstadt. The early candle arches always consisted of black ore. They were made out of one single forged piece and could be painted. The number of candles varies with the size of the arc. The original one featured 11. The most famous design was created by Paula Jordan in 1937 for a show in Schwarzenberg. It depicted the 3 main sources of income of the people in the region in the 18th and 19th century. Thus the Schwibbögen showed apart from some traditional symbols; 2 miners, 1 wood carver, a bobbin lace maker, a Christmas Tree, 2 miner's hammers, 2 crossed swords, and an angel. It holds 7 candles. Contrary to popular belief the candle holder was always associated with Christmas. The light symbolizes the longing of the miners who didn't see the daylight in winter for weeks sometimes due to their long working hours below the surface. Over time the designs changed. Especially in the last few decades after the World War II the Schwibbögen has reached not only a new popularity, but has changed a lot in its looks. Now it is typically made out of wood which depicts historical or religious scenes. But there are even landscapes, skylines, advertisements - there is almost no limit to the possibilities. What remains is the link to Christmas traditions. Especially in the Ore Mountains the windows of the houses in villages and towns feature a lit candle arch - usually with the traditional designs or at least local scenes.

Santas | Weihnachtsmann & Nutcrackers | Nussknackers
These tiny matchbox-sized little holiday scenes are too adorable.
Oh my 'Lanta. I NEEEED a Christmas pyramid | Weihnachtspyramide! 
A bit about pyramids: A Christmas pyramid | Weihnachtspyramide is a Christmas decoration that has its roots in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) of Germany but has become popular throughout the country. It is suggested that the Christmas pyramid is a predecessor of the Christmas tree. These pyramids are not limited to Christmas: in the Erzgebirge there was a custom of dancing around the "St. John's Tree", a pyramid decked with garlands and flowers at the summer solstice. Not actually pyramid-shaped, the Christmas pyramid is a kind of carousel with several levels, some depicting Christian motifs such as angels or manger scenes and others with more secular motifs such as mountain-folk, forests, and other scenes from the everyday life of people in the Erzgebirge. The spinning motion of the pyramids is traditionally achieved with the help of candles whose rising heat spins a propeller above. Christmas pyramids serve a mainly decorative purpose today, filling children and adults alike with holiday cheer. Generally Christmas pyramids are made of wood and based on four-to eight-sided platforms with a long pole in the middle serving as the axle to which the entire apparatus tapers above and which supports any further platforms. Inside in a glass or ceramic support is a driveshaft on to which at least one platform is attached. The figures, which stand on the platforms are also traditionally made of wood. Christmas pyramids take various forms from intricately carved miniature houses with pitched roofs, to large multi-level structures that simply serve as a display for the carved figures. In many cities in the Ore Mountains there are large Christmas pyramids on the Market Square at the Christmas Market or in other locations associated with Christmas hustle and bustle. Most of the pyramids demonstrate nativity scenes. They include the story of the Christ child being born, of shepherds and wise men visiting the child, and of angels rejoicing in heaven. The nativity scene often is placed on the longest shelf at the bottom of the pyramid, while a pine cone or a star would crown the top. FASCINATING STUFF!

Beautiful ornaments. I wanted one of each.
Don't look at these Allie cuz it's what I got you (and myself :) for Christmas! They're wooden ornaments with paintings of famous Bavarian and other big German cities. Love love love them. To always remember our time here in Germany.
More traditional German items are these Räuchermann | smokers: 
And some background about these interesting things - the Räuchermann, erzgebirgisch Raachermannel is an "incense smoker", the invention of toy makers in the Ore Mountains and used to burn down cone incense, known as Räucherkerzchen. The Räuchermann was first mentioned in 1850 and is nowadays a common component in the Ore Mountain Christmas tradition. For this a cone incense is set on first,then put on the lower part of the bifid wood figurine. The upper part is hollowed out and put on top of the first part. The cone incense burns down inside of the hollow figurine, the smoke leaving the mouth hole of the Räuchermann. Before the Räuchermann was invented cone incense was displayed and burnt down in the open. During Christmas time Räuchermänner are displayed together with Schwibbogen candle arches, miners' figurines, angels and Christmas pyramids. Several kinds of figurines exist, traditionally displaying craftsmen of the region, such as foresters, peddlers, miners, and soldiers.

Picking and choosing.
Little wintery scenes.
Reminds me of Department 56.
Zodiac ornaments.
Cute li'l nook.
Collage of all-things Christmas!
Sister Gordon and her daughter finding gifts for family and friends.
Love this Pyramid.
Lots and lots of wooden gifts and shelves and ceilings.
After maybe an hour we all found what we wanted and needed and headed back outside.
This blue half-timbered building was across the way and I ran over to take a picture of it cuz it's so gosh-dern cute.
It was a rainy kind of day, but still so beautiful.
Then we drove into town to get some lunch.
Vines and painted window shutters - oh my!
Snapshots from Muggendorf. 
We ate at the Hotel Goldner Stern.
I sat right next to this Christmas tree and oh my goodness it smelled SOOOOO GOOD!
Such a darling restaurant.
I got, as Jami calls it, "Mac and cheese on crack." Delicious beyond all get-out.
As we were walking back to the car I spotted this green ivy-covered house and immediately wanted to move in.
Pastel houses with red roofs.
The painted shutters again.
And the green house again :)
Such a fun morning exploring this part of the world we live in and getting more and more into the Christmas spirit!


  1. Hello Paige,
    wow, I love Erzgebirgische Volkskunst. We are spending Xmas in the Ore Mountains at our grandparents' house. Xmas in the Ore Mountains is so lovely with all the lights and the decoration going on. Wishing you and your family a Very Merry Christmas! Sandra

  2. What a fun time!! I would have gone bankrupt in that store! LOL!! Loving the photos!!!!!!!

  3. My BIL served his mission in Germany and he brought home one of those christmas pyramids for my MIL. That is really neat that it started there in that hard to pronounce city. :)

  4. Oh my gosh, is that käse spetzel (sp)? Loved it when I was in Bavaria in 2006. SO good!

  5. What an awesome shop!! My debit card would not have been safe in there!! HA!

  6. Wonderful photos, Paige! You are one lucky gal to have a hubby that will let you spend more than 5 minutes in this store. We were in one of the Kathe Wolhfahrt shops (Nurenberg) just long enough to buy my sister-in-law a Xmas gift....maybe he was wise as I would have broken the bank. Love the persimmon tree in your last pic. Thank you for bringing back memories.

  7. Hi Paige, I look forward to your posts about your travels. I haven't left the U.S. except for trips to Canada. I love the picture heavy posts. Thanks for sharing your family and travels. Merry Christmas!
    Hugs, Jess

  8. What Chris said! You're a lucky, lucky grz.

  9. what a darling town and a cool shop. Good thing you didn't take me there or I would have gone broke!


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