Monday, December 12, 2016

Impressions from my favorite Christmas Market

As Christmas Markets go, I rather have less than more, a bit less of everything. These days, when life is so busy  and I am faced with many a butter-flour-sugar issue in my tiny kitchen, I seek the simple, the more quiet things in life, to calm my nerves and take a breather from the hectic pre-Christmas December rush.

And, as always, I was looking forward to our visit to the one-day Christmas event at our favorite open-air museum. So, I put together a small post with a few of my favorite impressions from yesterday´s visit.

An open-air museum is a type of museum that exhibits collections of buildings and artifacts out-of-doors. The concept of an open-air museum is said to have originated in Scandinavia in the late 19th century. These kinds of museums showcase often forgotten ways of life and household tasks to present day visitors. These tasks include cooking on a cast-iron stove, baking in a wood-fired oven, dyeing cloth with plant colors, drying veggies for storage, jaming, pickling, gardening, farming, breeding cattle, weaving, rope making, and forging.

And I was not disappointed with yesterday´s visit – looking at the charming, yet simple decorations around the various timber-framed houses, was pure joy.

These vintage linen shirts were hung out to dry on a clothline adorned with wooden cloth pins and were part of a charming display that explained the use of blue dyeing plants.

It was no surprise that I was totally charmed by the simple straw star decorations ("Strohsterne") on the Christmas trees on display  –  did you know that the first written account of a “Christmas tree” appeared in the year 1605. German citizens used to decorate the trees with roses cut out of colored paper, apples, wafers, gold-foil, and sweets. More than 100 years later,  people started to decorate trees and homes with candles. By the early 1900s offering gifts became an integral part of Christmas celebrations along with the Christmas tree decorations.

Straw stars ornaments are a traditional German decoration. Stars made out of straw go back to times when people couldn't afford decorations at Christmas and therefore used a material that was common in most households: straw. Straw was not only inexpensive, it is also easy to bend and cut. For many, however, straw decorations are a reminder of the baby Jesus, lying in his straw-filled crib in Bethlehem.

Sand. Soap. Soda. Vintage enamel vessels for those cleaning necessities - even during the holidays.

German kitchens used to have a decorative shelf with a set of pots, neat and tidy, filled with three essentials for a clean home: soap, sand, and soda. Although English-speaking countries never had a special storage unit like this, and didn’t think of the “three esses” as a trio, they also made much use of sandsoda and soap. Soda in the late 19th century was factory-made and quite affordable.  Among other things, it helps with laundry and with taking out stains. Soap, like soda, was quite plentiful by 1900, not too expensive, and was available in powder or flakes suitable for filling a nice enamel pots. And sand had been a basic cleaning agent for centuries - for scrubbing floors, scouring iron cooking pots, and much more.

Ah, those half-timbered houses. And the adorable seasonal decorations - traditional colors are red and green.

Evergreen plants, like fir branches, holly, ivy and mistletoe have been used for thousands of years to decorate and brighten up buildings during the long dark winter. They also reminded people that spring would come and that winter wouldn't last forever. An early use of red at Christmas were the apples on the paradise tree. Red is also the color of Holly berries, which are said to represent the blood of Jesus when he died on the cross, red is also the color of Bishops robes

Below is the picture I took in the ropeyard. There you can watch a ropemaker while he makes ropes, demonstrates rope knots and explains all about his amazing craft.

I love those wicker baskets that were used for collecting rags "to feed" the 100-year-old rag shredder - all on display in one of the historic buildings.

Collectibles. Vintage wooden Christmas ornaments for sale. I definitely have a soft spot for wooden ornaments in my heart. They remind me of my grandmother’s Christmas tree and amy childhood. There are a few that I seriously want to add to my collection this year!

Mini cake pans, a miniature doll sewing machine and red and white checkered linen napkins with tiny cutlery for sale. Wouldn´t you just love to receive those as a gift?!

And, of course, these wooden kitchen tools caught my attention – loved the rolling pin, meat tenderizing mallet, beater, and butter churn.

So, there, I took a brief moment and indulged in a few impressons from the things I treasure the most these days.Now, I believe, it is time to get back into the kitchen to bake a few of our beloved Christmas treats and plunge head first into the hustle and bustle of December.


  1. Those wooden Christmas ornaments look so familiar. My parents had a few of those that they passed on to my sister and me. They're just so special.

    Every now and then, I find ornaments handmade in Germany and relish in getting them, but it already looks like Santa crashed his sleigh into our house!

    Bonn looks like such a cute, magical town. I'm so glad you live there.
    Sending you and your beautiful family all the very best for Christmas and the coming year, dear Andrea.

    1. Dear Colette, thank you for your kind words and all the love! Although we are not quite there yet - there is still time, thank goodness - I wish you and your lovely family a joyous Christmas. Lots of fabulous gifts, great food and fantastic family get togethers!
      Love and hugs,

  2. Andrea, ganz lieben Dank fuer diesen wunderschoenen Post! Ergreifend schoen und schlicht, genau richtig. Das letzte Foto inspiriert mich sehr... 'Lebkuchen', vielleicht aus braunem Filz, vielleicht als Topflappen... Liebe Gruesse aus dem kalten und sonnigen Frederick!

    1. Liebe Wally, ein wenig Schlichheit ist genau das Richtige zur Zeit (jedenfalls wenn es nach meinem ganz persönlichen Empfinden geht) - da hat man Zeit zur Besinnung und um etwas durchzuatmen - ich glaube, wir könnten das alle ganz gut gebrauchen bevor wir den Weihnachts-Endspurt angehen.
      Ganz liebe Grüße und noch eine besinnliche Adventszeit,

  3. Fascinating Post Andrea, a nice journey through the market. So many small details I enjoyed, one, I like using ice skates in decorating, the rope and basket, the straw, wooden kitchen tools, cake pans, wood ornaments, the color red. Most interesting to me: Sand. Soap. Soda. I love those cans and that shelf. I'm not sure I should admit it- for everyone in the universe likely knows- but I never knew people used sand for cleaning! It makes for common sense though with its abrasive texture. Thank you for sharing the Christmas Market and Best Wishes pulling all together in what seems near universally a very busy, hectic time!

    1. Dear Peggy, such a kind and thoughtful comment in the midst of all that hustle and bustle of pre-Christmas season. For some (known) reason, I decided to take it a bit easier with Christmas posts this year - I have the feeling of being a bit overwhelmed by all that is out there and seems to get more by the day - so this visit is always a welcome day to take a breath and step back from all the craziness around us!
      Many thanks for your kind words - don´t wory about that "sand" thing - I learned it from my grandma who used to have to scrub floors with it - that´s all - a interesting little tidbit of info.
      Have a peaceful pre-Christmas season, dear friend!

  4. I love visiting different Christmas Markets when I am in Germany. They are so much fun, drinking Glühwein, eating sausages and listening to Christmas music. Your photos make me a little homesick.

    1. Liebe Gerlinde, freut mich sehr, dass dir der Post gefällt - es gibt manchmal wirklich nichts Stimmungsvolleres als einen Weihnachts- oder Adventsmarkt!
      Liebe Grüße nach Santa Cruz und euch noch eine schöne und besinnliche Adventszeit,

  5. What a beautiful market - so different from the brightly-lit, flashy markets in city streets. (Although I do love those, too!).
    Wir wünschen Ihnen ein frohes Weihnachtsfest und alles Gute für das neue Jahr! Ganz liebe Grüße, David und Mark

  6. Every single time I click into your universe, my heart fills up.
    I LOVE the pair of skates hanging the most!
    MERRY CHRISMAS w/ LOTS of love and warm hugs. xxx