Christmas Traditions in Germany

The smoking man (Der Räuchermann)

Little wooden figures, hand made, are a German Christmas tradition which comes from the Erz- Mountains (Erzgebirge) in the East of Germany. Erz means ore. In little towns as Seiffen turners and other craftsmen build them and export them to German and also International Christmas markets. However, nowadays there are also many imitations of Erz-Mountain art around.
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At home, I have two of these little persons, a baker and a wood-turner. They are about 12-15 cm large, i.e. 4.5 to 6 inch.

[Zuhause habe ich zwei von diesen kleinen Personen, einen Bäcker und einen Drechsler. Sie sind etwa 12-15 cm groß.]

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You can open the little body of the figure so that it is split into upper and lower part of the body. The upper part is hollow. You put in there a little smoking cone. You light it up and it does not burn for a long time, but begins soon to glow and to smoke. Then you close the wooden body again.

[Der kleine Körper lässt sich öffnen, so dass er in Ober- und Unterkörper geteilt ist. Der obere Teil ist hohl. In diesen stellt man einen kleinen Räucherkegel. Diesen zündet man an. Er brennt nicht lange, sondern beginnt alsbald zu glühen und zu rauchen. Dann schließt man den Holzkörper wieder.]

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After that the little man is smoking heavily out of his mouth, the only hole where the smoke can get out with the air coming from below. It looks as if he would smoke a pipe.
This image is taken without flash and the smoke highlighted a little bit.

This image is made with flash. Colours are more natural, but the smoke more difficult to see.