Winter Lore 07 – Erzgebirge









The Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) are a part of Saxony that is as distinct in its landscape and local dialects as it is famous for silver and tin mining, lace making, and wooden crafts. A comprehensive history and recipes about the Erzgebirgen in English and German you can find on the Real Erzgebirge homepage.

I would like to tell you a bit about one part of the rich tradition that my family loves in particular, the wood crafting. During the dark winter times we light our house with the traditional wooden candle holder angels which are wearing the outfit of miners, and with Schwibbögen.

The Schwibbögen are traditionally placed on the inside window sills of houses and were originally topped with real candles. The candles are said to symbolize the day light the miners were longing for in the mine shafts but also are symbolic for the hope and love accompanying Christian believe with the birth of Jesus Christ. The form of the Schwibbögen is supposed (like the Stollen) to symbolize a mine shaft.

Particularly in the country side in Saxony and especially often in the Erzgebirge you will enjoy walking through villages during Advents- and Christmas time as houses are lit by these Schwibbögen.

My favourite wood carvings though are  pyramids (no not the Egyptian ones!) and so called Räuchermännchen or Räucherpilze – these are little incense smokers in form of wooden mushrooms, miners, farmers, gnomes or meanwhile any profession the creative wood carver could think of.

The pyramids can come from single story (like the mine in the picture) up to as many stories the pyramid builders can manage. They usually depict, the nativity scene, carolers and the shepherds including sheep, trees and winter scenes are traditional too.

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