The chill in the air didn’t phase me, and I was simply praying for snow to come and complete the picture. Like a big kid, I was merrily dancing between wooden toy shops, mulled wine moments, and festive window displays everywhere.
If Christmas were a place, it would look and feel just like this. Seiffen, in the Saxony Ore Mountains, was about as festive as it can get and within moments of arriving I declared I never wanted to leave this magical wonderland that seemingly put reality on hold for Santa.
There was in fact so much Christmasy feels on my December visit to Saxony I’ve split this article into two parts. If you want to know all about the stars, gingerbread, stollen and many markets that make up a Christmas visit to Dresden, click the link and start there. But here, in the Ore Mountains, is where a very different festive trip began for me.
In Seiffen it’s not all about the markets when it comes to Christmas, it’s about the whole town. From the miners’ traditions to the snow-lined roofs and golden hues of the candles in windows, if you want to go on the ultimate Christmas vacation this, my friends is where you need to get to!
The journey to Seiffen had been a blissful car journey of untouched towering trees and wide open spaces, eagerly awaiting a touch of smooth white snow to complete the perfect postcard picture.
At Neuhausen, a small village sitting under a white castle, I got my first taste of Christmas traditions, of which there are many to be found, in the form of the Nussknackermuseum.
If you’ve ever seen one of these detailed dolls, whose mouths will crack a nut, you’ll likely know they are a staple Christmas decoration for many around the world. Well, these started right here in 17th century Saxony, especially in the Ore Mountains. While initially not just for the festive time, over the years they became associated with the Christmas holidays, and here at the museum, you can see 1000’s of the dolls from around the world, including the smallest, and the Guinness world record holding largest of them.
Continuing from Neuhausen I was beyond excited to arrive at Seiffen, like a kid in a candy store, the Christmas cheer levels were now over 100-percent, and I’d almost forgot I was here to work on a film, as we drove into what could be a festive movie set.
Welcome to Seiffen
Seiffen, and all across the Ore Mountains, you’ll find traditions in abundance. Many directly relating to Christmas, and many others relating to the history of these old Miners’ towns.
I was quickly learning on this trip that Germany, or rather Saxony, was a place double-downed on its traditions. People here seem to cling on to traditions with the same loving warmth a child clings on to their favourite doll, and it was beautiful to see.
Christmas in the Ore Mountains isn’t just a few week affair though, here in Seiffen the toy makers and festive shops are a year-round event, and while the festive magic is heightened in December, if you need a summer Christmas pick me up, I’m convinced you could still find it here!
Whether you opt to enjoy the magic of the ‘Reifendrehen’ (wood turning) in the Seiffen workshops, admire the delicate lace making in Annaberg, or warm your heart seeing the Kurrende children wandering the streets carolling, Christmas always comes early in the Ore Mountains.
Wendt & Kühn-Figurenwelt Seiffen
While the whole town is awash with festive cheer and stores, let me take you on a tour of some of the most prominent you can visit to admire the handicrafts that still, to this day, offer handmade perfection in their products.
The Wendt & Kühn-Figurenwelt shop in Seiffen is the perfect example. The world-famous depiction of Christmas, the angel, is immortalised here in the most ornate of ways.
While Wendt & Kühn-Figurenwelt make beautiful handicrafts of all kinds, it’s perhaps the green-winged, white dotted angels which are the most famous and adorn trees, music boxes, and living rooms throughout the country. Whether you prefer your angels floating gracefully, or rocking out on a guitar, this beautiful hand-painted collection will oblige.
Inside their Seiffen store you’ll find giant music boxes, and a history lesson of their production, making it the perfect place to escape the winter chill for kids, and big kids, alike.
With the angels in production since 1923, and unusually for that day, created by two women, there is a long story about the growth of Wendt & Kühn, and here you’ll be able to start your journey into learning about the traditions of the Ore Mountains.
Mountain Church Seiffen (Bergkirche Seiffen)
While the church in Seiffen might not boast the grandeur and scale of most other European churches, it does have another card up its sleeve.
The octagonally shaped church is famous the world over, so much so that in Texas you’ll find a reconstruction of it. As with everything in the Ore Mountains, that fame can be linked back to the toy makers of this town whose loving handiwork went into making the church what it is today.
The late Baroque church was where the miners would convene for their quarterly church service when they would come up from the mines for a break. Over time, as the mining work died down and those very same miners’ turned their hands to woodcraft, the church, which is mainly constructed from wood, got multiple facelifts. Inside the compact space, you can see much of the new wood-work additions, and each one proudly states the date it was added to this unique building.