What are German Smokers
What are German Smokers?
What are German smokers? The answer to this question is not as straight forward as you might think it is. The short answer to this question is that German smokers are handmade wooden incense burners, but this doesn’t even begin to give German smokers the justice they deserve because they are so much more than that. Knowing where German smokers came from and what they represent will give you a much better understanding of what German smokers are all about. Of course, that’s the long answer, so keep reading!
German smokers are originally from the Erzgebirge mountain region of southeastern Germany, near the border of the Czech Republic. This area was once a rich and prosperous mining region, however after several wars and diminishing mines the people of the Erzgebirge region found themselves without the means to provide for their families as they had done for hundreds of years. Rather than packing up and moving back to the cities to find work to support their families, the people of the area looked for ways to make money while still living and working in the secluded mountainous region their families had lived for centuries. Known for their inventiveness and hardworking spirits, the people of the area started focusing on traditional woodworking as a means to earn a living. The area quickly became known for exquisite handmade wooden goods, in particular wooden toys, Christmas decorations, Germany pyramids, and German smokers. Today, these wooden crafts are collected by Germans and other people around the world as treasured collectibles.
Using the wood from trees that are indigenous to the Erzgebirge region, German smokers are carved from a single piece of wood by skilled craftsmen. With traditional techniques that have been handed through the generations since the mid-1800s, German smokers are prized for their finely detailed craftsmanship and whimsical appeal. While carved from the same piece of wood, German smokers are actually two pieces that fit together to make one unified piece. The base of the smoker is where an incense cone can be placed in the center and the hollowed out top of the smoker fits over the cone. A small hole is drilled into the bottom of the base which forces the smoke from the incense cone to travel out of the top of the smoker through the mouth hole of the figurine.
German smoker figurines come in all shapes and sizes, but their inspiration usually comes from the everyday working man. During the nineteenth century, smoking was a common habit in Germany. The sight of people enjoying a pipe full of tobacco was something that was often seen in the cities and towns around Germany and was considered a unifying type of activity that most people enjoyed at the time. Of course, this was well before people realized that smoking was hazardous! It’s thought that the first German smokers were inspired by this activity and would appeal to Germans and other people around the world. Rather than crafting these smoking men after military officials, like the nutcrackers, or other well-known religious and historical figures, the common man was used as inspiration for German smokers. This tradition is still followed today, which is part of why the German smoker has such a wonderful appeal to collectors around the world.
Some of the most common types of German smokers are working men, such as miners, shepherds, and chimneysweepers. The chimneysweeper, in particular, is one of the most popular German smoker because of it has always been a sign of good luck to see a chimneysweeper and even better luck to shake the hand of a chimneysweeper. So, owning a chimneysweeper German smoker is one that has always been popular. Today, German smokers can be found to represent just about every occupation imaginable. There are chefs, dentists, doctors, nurses, farmers, firemen, policemen, gardeners, hair dressers, lawyers, chemists, magicians, artists, plumbers, postmen, teachers, fishermen, waiters, veterinarians, and even lumberjacks. If you can imagine it, there is probably a German smoker that represents it.
While German smokers are collected and displayed throughout the year, they are especially important around the Christmas holidays. In Germany, Christmas is not just celebrated on December 25th. In fact, that is just the beginning of the holiday season which starts off the traditional twelve days of Christmas. The last day of the holiday is held on January 6th, which is called the Festivity of the Three Wise Men. As you know, the Three Wise Men brought the newborn baby Jesus three gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Frankincense, or incense, has always been thought to be effective in chasing off evil spirits. Around holidays, and particularly on the twelfth day of Christmas, German households will place German smokers in every room of their homes to bless the house and chase away the evil spirits that may have been hanging around. This starts off the new year with a positive and fresh start for the whole family.
As you can see, German smoker figuriness are not simply adorable collectibles, but they are rich in German tradition and represent the ingenuity and ability of the human spirit to carry on. If it weren’t for the hard times that the people of the Erzgebirge region had to endure, the German smoker would not exist today. Rather than allowing themselves to fall into despair, they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and found a way to carry on. They honor and respect the simplicity of the common man and allow you to appreciate the beauty in everyday life. This is why German smokers are such unique and beautiful collectibles to own. So, what are German smokers? They’re everything and everyone!