What’s a Räuchermann?

(Photo: S. Blackert)

“Räuchermann” translates to “smoking manikin” or “incense smoker” and – just like the Schwibbogen – is a famous part of German Christmas decorations. It also has its origins in the Ore Mountains, although its tradition is younger than the one of Schwibbögen: Räuchermänner (plural) – or, in the Ore Mountain dialect, “Raachermannel” – were first mentioned in 1850.

The small wooden figurines, which are elaborately designed, crafted and also often painted by hand, are hollow on the inside. A cone of incense (“Räucherkerze”) is lighted and then set into the hollowed out part. From there, the smoke travels through the figurine and leaves its mouth, giving the impression of it smoking.

Figurines also come in all shapes and sizes, although the mostly depict craftsmen of the Ore Mountain region, e.g. foresters, soldiers or miners, but also Christian motifs such as angels or even more modern professions. Nowadays, some are even depicting people sitting at a computer or playing cards.

By the way: Even though “Räuchermann” literally translates to “smoking man”, there are also female “Räucherfrauen”.

 

Text: S. Schückel

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