German Christmas traditions have had a major influence on modern Christmas through Victorian London and Charles Dickens. I suppose I should say "Germanic" Christmas traditions and include other Teutonic or Nordic groups as well.
Growing up I recall my uncle having a collection of nutcrackers and I even remember seeing smokers in Christmas shops. My family went to many Christmas shops. My mother would go to a Christmas shop in the middle of July at a beach. She really dug Christmas.
Smokers are these neat little incense burners that look like people, usually holding a pipe, and the smoke comes out of their mouths.
|A traditional smoker. The incense smoke comes from the "O" shaped mouth opening|
|A traditional nutcracker|
Or maybe just run for their collection of hard to open nuts. Either way, we win.
If you are looking for nutcrackers you can find them everywhere like Target, Michaels and even Wal Mart, but I did a little poking about online and found some very nice sites.
Erzebirge-Palace is a great website for German handcrafted holiday items, such as nutcrackers and smokers:
What else do we get from Germans?
|O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, thy pagan roots are covered in presents|
From the ancient Jul Log to the Victorian practices of the very German Queen and Prince Consort of England (Victoria and Albert for those who don't Google) the use of living green decorated to symbolize the winter festival is ancient. The practices of Vicky and Al became the fashion in England and America and now everybody has to have one. It became very cool in the 60's to have ALUMINUM TREES (with or without COLOR WHEEL!)
|Aluminum Tree (my dad still owns one)|
|Color Wheel using a powerful spot light and rotating translucent plastic disk to cast changing colors over the aluminum strips of the tree (dad has this too)|
If that's not going from the sacred to the profane I don't know what is. Okay, I can think of far worse examples, but this is not the place for that sort of thing.
Lots of good info on this phenomenon (not meme, there was no interwebs back then) here:
These days Christmas trees come in all varieties from live trees a family can cut down themselves (a tradition in my house for many, many years) to cutsey little fiber optic jobs you sit on a table, but we owe this particular tradition where we bring the outdoors into our house, light it up and give it presents to Germany (and by extension the whole Teutonic peoples). Yep, not pagan at all...
Now a celebrity opinion:
What do you think, Johnny Bravo?
|I dig them metal trees, man. I can see my reflection in 'em and man, I'm pretty!|