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The Räuchermann (diminutive Räuchermännchen), erzgebirgisch Raachermannel is an incense smoker, the invention of toy makers in the Ore Mountains (German: Erzgebirge), used to burn down cone incense, known as Räucherkerzen.
The Räuchermann was first mentioned in 1850 and is now a common component in the Ore Mountain Christmas tradition. For this, an incense cone is first lit and then put on the lower half of the two-part wood figurine. The hollowed-out upper part is placed over the lighted cone, which 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 Räuchermännchen are displayed together with Schwibbögen (candle arches), miners' figurines, angels, and Christmas pyramids.
Several kinds of figurines exist, traditionally representing craftsmen of the region, such as foresters, peddlers, miners, and soldiers. Today, they exist in many more forms, including the so-called "edgesitters", which can be placed on the edge of the table, small scenes of several Räuchermänner (such as a group playing Skat), and also female Räuchermänner, called Räucherfrauen. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the largest Räuchermann in the world is in the Miniaturenpark Kleinwelka in Bautzen, Germany.
Smoker/candlers are available in the ornaments section on this page.
Nutcracker dolls originate from late-17th century Germany, particularly the Ore Mountains (German: Erzgebirge) region. One origin story attributes the creation of the first nutcracker doll to a craftsman from Seiffen. They were often given as gifts, and at some point they became associated with Christmas season. They grew in popularity around the 19th century and spread to nearby European countries. As the demand grew, nutcracker doll production also began on a mass scale in factories. Friedrich Wilhelm Füchtner [de] (1844–1923), commonly known in Germany as "father of the nutcracker", began the first mass production of the design (using a lathe) at his workshop in Seiffen in Saxony during 1872.
Decorative nutcracker dolls began being popularized outside of Europe after the Second World War, when numerous American soldiers stationed in Germany came home to the United States with German nutcrackers as souvenirs. Further popularization came from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, a ballet adaptation of E. T. A. Hoffmann's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which featured a toy soldier nutcracker. The ballet, introduced to America during the mid-20th century, became a favorite holiday tradition across the United States and helped make nutcracker dolls a Christmas decoration and a seasonal icon across Western culture.
Nutcracker dolls are available in the ornaments section on this page.
Read on here about a Southern California native who went looking for an old-fashioned Christmas. She found it in the “Christmas ornament town” of Seiffen, tucked in Germany’s Ore Mountains:
New York Times: Dreaming of an Artisanal Christmas