The Glückspilz (Lucky Mushroom) Tradition

Posted on November 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

My Growing Traditions offers a selection of German Christmas ornaments depicting the Amanita muscaria Mushroom with its white-spotted bright red cap. Amanita muscaria (common name fly mushroom, or fly agaric), a toadstool, is toxic - dangerously poisonous - and should NEVER be tasted.

But, it should be enjoyed on your Christmas tree.

In the German and other European cultures, the mushroom is seen as a good-luck symbol - Glückpilz (Lucky Mushroom - colloquial "Lucky Duck, Dog, Devil, etc.") - and is "The Mushroom" of Christmas and the New Year, especially as a symbol of a blessing at the turn of the New Year. It honors a reverence of nature and the beauty of the forest - if you find one it is believed to bring you good fortune. It is acknowledged to be the most recognized mushroom on earth. This famous mushroom abounds in Christmas decorations, children's story books, and fairy tales.

As a good-luck symbol and a symbol respecting the beauty of nature the Amanita muscaria mushroom is a traditional ornament on German Christmas trees.

The Christian Ulbricht Workshop from the Erzgebirge, Germany - since 1928 - brings us this dear wooden ornament with an Amanita muscaria:


 Christmas Wreath

And, Inge-Glas of Germany brings us several Amanita muscaria glass Christmas ornaments   


Flat-top Mushroom           

Mini Tall Hat

Add a little Glückpilz - Lucky Mushroom to your Christmas!

Posted in Christian Ulbricht, Christmas Legends, Christmas Traditions, Erzgebirge, Inge-Glas

2014 Carbonel Santons Nativity Sets - Size #2 (Elite)

Posted on October 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

Every year we build new Marcel Carbonel Santons (from Provence, France) Nativity Sets built around different stables. Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223.

We always offer starter sets for Carbonel figures themselves (Mary, Joseph, and Jesus) and our Shepherd Gift set. Click here to see them in Size #2 (Elite) and here for Size #3 (Grande).  All are a wonderful way to get started and to save some money.

Our one of a kind stable sets are available for Size #2. They include a stable, Santons figures, trees from the Erzgebirge, and Bavarian accessories. Enjoy the European tradition. Begin with a stable and the nativity figures. Over the years, add additional figures and Carbonel accessories, trees, and miniature accessories. 

#1 - Charming Creche Set. This set includes Carbonel Ruin Stable with trees and eight figures: Mary, Joseph, Jesus, an Angel, three Kings, and a sheep. The accessories are from Bavaria and the Erzgebirge, Germany.

#2 -Wonderful Carbonel Nativity Set with German Accessories.  This set includes a Courtyard Stable; Mary, Joseph, Jesus, three Kings, an Angel and a sheep. PLUS a sampling of accessories--all from Germany (the Erzgebirge and Bavaria).


#3 - An exquisite creche starter set. Combine French Santons figures with a German stable and accessories. This set includes: eight Santons: Mary, Joseph, Jesus, three Kings, Angel, and a sheep. A detailed hand-made stable reminiscent of the European Alps from Bavaria. PLUS German trees and accessories.

#4 - Nativity Set with Carbonel Santons and Stable with German Accessories. This set celebrates the arrival of a Shepherd with his sheep - the shepherd was the first to arrive at the manger. The stable is the Stable with Trees -– Étable No. 2 bis avec arbres. Eight figures: Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the Man with a sheep, three sheep, and a lamb. The accessories are from Bavaria and the Erzgebirge, Germany..


 #5 - A delightful creche set combining French Santons with a German Stable and accessories. A Bavarian stable - in the Alpine Tradition. Five (5) Santons figures: Mary, Joseph, Jesus, an Angel and a sheep. Accessories from Bavaria and the Erzgebirge, Germany.


and finally #6 - Nativity Set with Carbonel Santons and Stable with German Accessories. Santons Stable with trees and four Santons: Mary, Joseph, Jesus and a sheep. The accessories are from Bavaria and the Erzgebirge, Germany.

Click on the images above to find these nativity sets in our shop. We ship online via the United States Post Office. For the bulk of the items we offer, USPS is definitely the least expensive way to ship. Nativity sets and Stables are one of the exceptions, due to weight and package dimensions. It is possible that our nativity sets would ship less expensively via United Parcel Service. Place a telephone order - 1-877-832-6077 for a UPS delivery. 


Posted in Carbonel Santons, Erzgebirge, German Folk Art, Nativities, Provence Christmas, Trees

The Wood Workers Shop - An Advent Calendar and our Traditional European Artisans

Posted on October 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

As we near this holiday season we realize that My Growing Traditions is truly about celebrating with the best of European folk art and Christmas. The artisans and their workshops whose folk art we offer are ones that represent the premier of their genre. All of them have histories that go back decades, some closing in on 100 years, and some beyond. They are artisans that have perfected their art and are recognized world-wide as masters in their field. They have been instrumental in creating and maintaining tradition. We carry Inge-Glas of Germany Christmas ornaments - the oldest Christmas ornament company in the world (since 1596) - and Marcel Carbonel Santons (since 1935) of Marseille, France, the preeminent Santons workshop.

And, we rejoice in the smaller workshops of the Erzgebirge, Germany - from the official German Christmas Village, Seiffen, and the toy-making villages that surround.

These wood-working artisans are so beautifully depicted in Brück und Sohn's (printer Meissen, Germany since 1793) Advent Calendar - The Erzgebirge Woodworker's Shop.

 Click here for Brück und Sohn's other Advent Calendars available on My Growing Traditions.

Our fondness for the Woodworker's Shop Advent Calendar led us to want to share with you photos of the workshops of many of the artisans that we carry. 


Christian Werner of Seiffen (since 1985) specializes in the exact work of the Woodworker's Shop - he is one of only eight who work in Reifendrehen, or ring-turning. 

Bettina Franke has followed in her parents footsteps and carves wonderful Santas and nativity figures. Her workshop like Christian Werner's has flourished since the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of communism in Eastern Europe.   
The Emil Helbig Workshop (since 1933) of the toy making village of Grunhainichen in the Erzgebirge is renowned for their exquisite figures - here the wood carver works on a cat.






Classic Angels and many other wonderful wooden figures have been created by the Wendt and Kuhn Workshop in Grunhainichen since 1915.


And last but not least, we want to share with you here this picture of the creation of a wood-chip tree, or Spanbaum, a folk art that dates to the 1930s.

We have been privileged over the years to visit the workshops of each of these artisans - a true joy and an experience that has cemented our desire to make their work available to you.


Posted in Angels, Brück and Sohn, Christian Werner, Christmas Traditions, Emil Helbig, Erzgebirge, German Christmas, German Folk Art, Nativities, Santa, Trees, Wendt and Kühn

Wendt and Kühn and Walt Disney's Movie: Saving Mr. Banks

Posted on October 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

In the Disney movie Saving Mr. Banks, a story of the making of Mary PoppinsTom Hanks plays Walt Disney and joyously notes: “There's no greater joy than that seen through the eyes of a child, and there's a little bit of a child in all of us.” Like Walt Disney, Grete Wendt had a special eye for seeing the world through the eyes of children, and with Wendt and Kühn and all the wonderful figures they have created, Grete Wendt gave the world the opportunity to do so as well. It was no wonder that Walt Disney so thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful wooden creations of Wendt and Kühn. 

As reported by the German-American Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta, Georgia: "Remembering her childhood, his daughter Diane Disney Miller wrote: 'My dad collected things that interested him ... As he and mother traveled together, they shopped, as tourists do, seeking out unique little things that pleased them, and that he thought his daughters would like to have.' A staff member at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco confirms this account, 'Walt Disney loved miniatures and picked up many of them on his travels.' He was obviously fascinated by the little wooden figurines from the Grünhainichen workshops of Wendt & Kühn in distant Germany. Perhaps they even provided inspiration for the creation of some of his film characters.... Corinne Leles from the Walt Disney Family Museum recalled, 'From what I have heard personally from Diane is that Walt received many Wendt & Kühn figures purchased by his wife Lillian and given to him as gifts from his two daughters Diane and Sharon.' The studio manager is also said to have presented his colleagues and employees with figurines from Grünhainichen." 

What is especially nice is that in the process of creating the sets for the movie, in October 2012 Disney productions reached out to Wendt & Kühn, determined to recreate Disney's personal office as accurately as possible - his office being a key backdrop in the film. Using photos of Disney's office sent to them by e-mail, Wendt & Kühn happily shipped off to them the figures that they needed. Nothing had changed, Wendt & Kühn was still able to make available the exact same figures. Among them was the Flower Child holding a Sunflower, which you can find here at My Growing Traditions.   

"The Hollywood production team could hardly believe it. 'Thank you for working with us in such a timely manner. ‘Walt’s office’ looked wonderful and authentic. I think you will be pleased when you see the film,' wrote Set Director Susan Benjamin in her thank-you card to the Grünhainichen workshops. And it’s true: in the scenes featuring Tom Hanks in the reconstructed film producer’s office, the Wendt & Kühn characters are wonderful to behold. They are vital props that give the film an authentic feel. The carefree, childlike appearance of the figurines is almost certainly the characteristic that most appealed to Walt Disney. After all, they seem to express a view of the world that Grete Wendt shared with the imaginative film producer."

We say thank you to the German-American Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta for writing this story and thank you to the Disney studios for making it happen in the first place. It is truly nice to see Wendt & Kühn celebrated on film.

You may also enjoy following our Wendt & Kühn Pinterest Board.


Posted in Erzgebirge, German Folk Art, Wendt and Kühn

Wendt and Kühn 2014 Eleven Dot Post

Posted on October 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

Once a year Wendt and Kühn publishes their Eleven Dot Post - the magazine from their Workshops in Grunhainichen, Germany.

We thought you would enjoy reading this special publication celebrating the classic Wendt and Kühn Angels. 


Click on the image above for a copy of the 2014 edition.
You can also find a copy of it posted on our website.


Among other things, this years edition has wonderful photographs of the intricate construction of their Angels, both on the cover and inside.

Drawings and Construction of Wendt and Kuhn Angels

My Growing Traditions carries an extensive selection of Wendt and Kühn figures. Enjoy!



Posted in Angels, Erzgebirge, German Christmas, German Folk Art, Wendt and Kühn

Celebrate Easter with Wendt and Kühn

Posted on March 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

We now have in stock five charming, colorful, and impeccably painted German Wendt and Kühn figures to add to your Easter traditions. They add a wonderful touch to your Easter table.

The Girl with a Basket filled with Eggs and carrying a bunny


is delightfully paired with the Boy with an Easter Egg

Each is 2-1/2 inches tall. 

The Easter Rabbit - Bunny - 3/4" tall - is available separately


and with two other special Wendt and Kühn figures:

a Marguerite Angel with Bunny Rabbit and Carrots


and a member of the Spring Flower Children (Blossom Kinder), The Girl with a Snowdrop and Bunny


All your Wendt and Kuehn purchases from My Growing Traditions will now come in a Wendt and Kuhn gift (presentation box), just to add that special touch to these special German works of art.

Visit our Pinterest board on Wendt and Kuhn angels for our collection of photos All things Wendt and Kuehn.

Posted in Angels, Erzgebirge, German Folk Art, Wendt and Kühn

Emil Helbig Exhibit at the Seiffen Toy Museum - and yes, we carry their wonderful folk art

Posted on November 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

If, by any chance, you plan to travel to Germany before the 4th of May 2014, make a side-trip to Seiffen and their Toy Museum.  From 16 November 2013 and 4 May 2014, the Toy Museum is holding a special exhibit of the work of the Emil Helbig Workshop in Grunhainichen. Founded 80 years ago, the Helbig Workshop is one of the oldest existing wood working workshops (Schnitzwerkstatten) in the Erzgebirge and considered one of its finest.

A graduate of the Dresden Arts and Crafts School in 1919, Helbig worked at the Meissen porcelain factory where he was discovered by Professor Alwin Seifert, the director of the "State Toy School." Helbig founded his own very special workshop in Grunhainichen in 1933. The exhibit at the Toy Museum includes many pieces that have never before been seen by the public.

We proudly carry their nativity, from the Mary, Joseph, and Jesus (shown here) to a full set of other nativity figures

and many of their Christmas ornaments, this angel being only one of them. Visit here to see more delightful Helbig Christmas ornaments.


We look forward to carrying more and more Helbig folk art over the years.  Let us know if there are specific pieces you are interested in.

Posted in Angels, Emil Helbig, Erzgebirge, German Christmas, German Folk Art, Nativities

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