Over a span of at least 5 thousand years, incense, the same as gold, gemstones and spices, has consistently been one of the most prized gifts that were given to kings and noblemen. It in addition, has been intimately connected with religious beliefs. Indeed, the holy book describes the Three Magi offering gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Incense still plays an important role in German festivals and celebrations. Maintaining a time-honored German tradition, January 6th brings around the Heilige Drei Konig or 3 Wise Men festivity. The special occasion of the 3 Wise Men is a state holiday in a number areas of Germany.
The Raunachte is a much commemorated time of the year. It starts on Christmas Day evening and continues until January 6th. It includes the last six nights of the old year and the first six of the new. Ancient beliefs and traditions have grown up around these twelve nights. According to German folklore, the wild huntsman Odin is thought to move through the air all through these long winter nights, alarming anyone who runs into him while he journeys. Not only is Odin on the prowl, Frau Holle, the hunter's wife, is thought to be at the same time.
Perhaps the most dreaded of all things moving about through the night is Berchta. She is honored as the goddess of winter. Berchta is supposedly roams the country side and enters residences on 12th Night. The goddess would be able to tell whether or not young children and small laborers had completed their chores all through the year. They might possibly be rewarded with a small coin if they had carried out their tasks well. If they had performed poorly, it was believed that she might slash their bellies open and load them with hay, twigs or rocks. She was most concerned in checking that girls had spun their full allotment of thread during the year.
All of this in unison with folk tales and mythology developed into men and women that thought that the bad spirits during the Raunaechte (longest nights in the year) might be made to leave by loud sounds and bright lights. Once the bad spirits had deserted the house, they would burn incense to bless the property. Lighted incense would be carried to every room in the house during Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve and the feast of Epiphany in hopes of keeping the unpleasant spirits far away. From these stories came the importance of the use of incense among German people. At this stage in time, incense was almost always burned with no covering, but this would soon change.
After the 30 year war was over, the principles of medieval religious leaders and regular people were combined to induce innovative ways of burning incense. Smokers, also known as "Rauchermann", were invented. Smoker figurines are classic hand crafted wood figurines that started in the Miriquidi Forest, which is now known as the Erzgebirge Mountains.
Very many years in the past the forests of the Erzgebirge Mountains were burrowed through in search of minerals and precious metals. The men that would work in the mines all through the day could often be observed crafting wood toy figurines during the night time. Eventually, when mining iron ore in the mountain range began to become hard to find, which led to the shutting down of the mines, a great deal of the original miners evolved into making wooden toys for earning their living.
Incense smokers became something the miners made, and typically resembled small replicas of people that lived or worked there, such as mail carriers, hunters, shepherds as well as the village folk too.
One of Germany's most renowned crafting families is the Steinbach family, that has become famous for making German folk art for 5 whole generations, has mastered the making of generating smoking men and nutcrackers. Every single one of their smoking men are based on a specific German persona in fine detail. Each nutcracker and incense smoker has a individuality of its own. Steinbach and their nutcrackers are well-known around the world for their quality workmanship, capabilities and giving attention to every aspect.
Incense smokers have developed into a widely used part of yuletide celebrations over time. A large number of collectors now use Steinbach nutcrackers and smokers to decorate their homes all through the Christmas holiday. In the future, when you notice a Steinbach nutcracker, give it a careful going over. You may notice quite a few exceptional details you hadn't been aware of until now.
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