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This year, our Christmas experience is going to be incomplete, that much is clear. This applies to travel as much as anything else, and particularly to a destination that is the mother lode of all things Christmassy: Germany.
Normally the wide variety of German Christmas markets attract around 85 million visitors a year, but Germany has placed back into a strict lockdown that will run until mid-January.
Mulled wine stalls have been packed away. But for those who are really missing their annual fix, there is a treat which can be stored up for when normal service s. For there is a small town in the former East which concentrates on Christmas all year round, and to visit it is to throw light on a relatively obscure part of the country with an interesting backstory.
Here, as many as enterprises spend their year merrily carving, chiseling, and painting away for the big day. The mountains themselves are not particularly high — rarely more than 1,m — but are ificant enough to form a natural barrier between Germany and the Czech Republic. It was the greeting of miners as they descended underground, wishing each other a safe return. The now-closed Ore mines were mostly for silver and tin, and as they declined, the miners started to experiment by carving figures using offcuts from timber tunnel supports.
Those creations eventually became a business in themselves, and have gone on to become a staple of German Christmas markets and household decorations, as well as spreading overseas. Some of them are new inventions, but many have direct connection to mining days.
For example, the ceremonial angels and military-looking figures were traditional gifts for newborns during the mining era. Women seeking men Seiffen rotating pyramids derive from horse capstan-powered rigs that were used to pump the mines dry, and the window sill arches were inspired by the arched tunnel supports where miners used to hang their lamps.
Seiffen lost its last mine inbut the community hung together and today every other house seems to be either a workshop or a woodcarving retailer. Painted figures hold doors open and stand on balconies, and you would be hard pressed to find a vegetable for sale along the Hauptstrasse unless it was made of wood. Visitors can walk through into a workshop spread across three floors, where production lines of disembodied he and torsos smell of glue, paint and sawdust, and whole hosts of angelic choirboys are orchestrated by local ladies wielding delicate paintbrushes with great skill.
But while visitor levels have remained high this year — with Germans taking increasing interest in their own country in the absence of international travel — the lack of markets has resulted in a 25 per cent drop in sales. They have had to reduce working hours and sell online. The bigger workshops in Seiffen are happy to receive visitors all year round, but it is worth seeking out the small family affairs, too, especially those that have long family involvement. Wilhelm started as a carpenter in the mining era, and back in he created the very first Nussknacker a miner in ceremonial costume with a lever-operated jaw to crack nuts.
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Seiffen: the German town where it is always Christmas A century and a half ago, the first wooden nutcracker soldier was carved in a small German town— and workshops still create festive ornaments there all year round A visitor walks at twilight among shops, including one with a giant Christmas pyramid standing outside, selling locally-produced traditional wooden Christmas figurines and ornaments Photo: Getty. By Andrew Eames. More from Lifestyle. Travel The countries that could be added to the 'amber plus' list and lose quarantine-free status. Travel When the next green list announcement is, and the countries that could move at travel review.
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