Christmas holds special memories for a Cedaredge couple.
Blaine and Judy Wells lived in Germany from June of 1995 until June 2001.
Judy was a nurse with the Army. Blaine had retired from teaching mathematics at a high school in Junction City, Kan.
While in Germany, they found time to travel throughout Europe visiting numerous towns and markets. Christmas markets or Weihnachtsmarkt were favorites though they collected other seasonal memorabilia, and items of interest along the way. This time of the year, Christmas decorations reflect that interest, both inside and outside of their home southwest of Cedaredge.
Blaine said, "Most Christmas markets open at the beginning of Advent, four weeks prior to Christmas and are really big throughout Europe. Open markets are usually set up in town squares and along nearby pedestrian areas."
Nativity scenes are a big thing. Nutcrackers or Nussknackers are hand carved, painted and come in all sizes. Candied toasted almonds or Gebrannte Mandeln, traditional cookies or Magenbrot, Christsollen or stolen, a sort of egg bread with candied fruit, Gluhwein a hot mulled wine (with or without a shot of brandy), and Bratwurst, along with many handmade toys, decorations and ornaments can be found and purchased at Christmas markets.
The Internet lists 32 countries with Christmas markets. The only country exceeding Germany with 119 markets is the U.K. with 198 (perhaps for English speaking tourists). The United States is listed at 19. Blaine and Judy found that one of the best and most famous markets is the one in Nuremberg, not far from where Judy was stationed at Vicksburg, Germany.
Blaine and Judy found all markets fascinating and purchased the items mentioned in this article to display and treasure each year.
The Christmas pyramid evolved from several early traditions, becoming popular around 1830, and can be found in numerous styles and sizes throughout Germany and in many parts of the United States. The pyramid in the Wells' home is several feet tall and has three tiers. The lower level displays a Nativity scene, another level shepherds and sheep. The top level holds angels. These small wooden figures are hand carved in Seiffen. The tiers rotate when heat rises from lit candles causing the attached fins and the pyramid to spin like a carousel.
German smokers have only been in existence for a few hundred years. Present day smokers are made of two pieces of wood that fit together to create a body. A small incense cone is placed inside. When the incense is burning, the smoke exits from the figure's mouth, pipe, or in some form of chimney next to the figure.
Smokers in their collection include a toymaker with tiny toys, a priest with a rosary, a figure carrying items from a general store, another with tiny carved animals from Noah's Ark. A smoker photographer was a gift to Blaine in recognition of all the photos he had been taking. The Three Kings (Magi) Casper, Melchior and Balthazar are smokers and are proximately displayed on the coffee table.
A Nuremberg Christmas Angel is chosen every two years. She gives gifts to the children as she meets and greets visitors to the market. A replica of the angel (available in many sizes) tops a small tree decorated with typical hand-painted wooden ornaments.
A set of 12 Hummel plates, each representing a month, are on display. This month, the December plate has been removed from the rack and placed on a nearby wooden plaque with moveable numbers to form a monthly calendar.
Dried plums, figs and walnuts are used in making a dried plum figure or Mannela. Booths at markets may be filled wall to wall with variations of figures made of these materials. Judy purchased one of the dolls in Nuremberg.
An extensive collection of ceramic village buildings, figures and accessories is shown on a table in the living room. Trees are made of one piece of wood that has been cut in sliver-like curls and other accessories cover the top of a table. Most in their collection represent buildings in Bavaria. "Our collection is small compared to some," Blaine commented. "Contests are held with elaborate, ingenious scenes, lit with candles or tiny electric lights, and entered in competition."
A child-size carved and painted carriage and horse are proximately displayed in a corner of the living room. Both were purchased in Cologne. They were traveling by train and needed to hand carry both pieces plus luggage back to their home.
There are many more items in their collection. Every room and hallway in the Wells' home is decorated for the season. It takes about a week to set up the many displays including old world and antique ornaments on their Christmas tree. Plus it will take about another week to take everything down, carefully pack each item, and store everything away.blog comments powered by Disqus