Miniatures - Putz - for your Christmas Village or Nativity Scene

Posted on October 31, 2015 | 0 Comments

We have added charming miniatures this year - perfect for use with your French Santons or German nativity scenes. These are just a few examples - baskets, wood, metal, copper, clay.

To find the miniatures and trees below, simply click on the images


They work well alongside the Carbonel accessories available for each size of Santons, and with the Erzgebirge Emil Helbig Workshop nativity figures and creche sets. 


The German verb putzen means to decorate and one commonly finds the word putz to describe miniatures for a Christmas Village or Nativity Scene. Putz, miniatures, accessories, whatever one calls them, they add a very special touch to your Christmas. The traditional nativity figures, a few larger accessories, a few miniatures, and a few trees -

create a tableau, small or large, that is special to you. In both Provence and Germany, each year families wait for the Christmas fairs during Advent to find new treasures to add to their nativities (just as we in America rejoice in adding new Christmas ornaments to our trees).

Enjoy all adds up to a bit of wonder!

To follow our Pinterest Board on Putz - Click here

Posted in Carbonel Santons, Christmas Traditions, Emil Helbig, Erzgebirge, French Christmas, German Christmas, German Folk Art, German Traditions, Nativities, Provence Christmas, Trees

Wendt and Kühn's Winter Kinder / Winter Children - Now Available and Perfect for a Winter Celebration

Posted on January 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Girl with Sleigh and Boy with Tree were first created by Olly Wendt over 40 years ago based on Olly's twins Hans and Sigrid. She crafted them as a special, personal gift for family and friends.

Now, for the first time they are available to collectors. 

The Winter Girl and Boy - the Winter Kinder - include a bit of Erzgebirge history: "The Winter Kinder are setting out to spread a touch of wintery spirit among a large audience. Bundled up in their warm clothes and furnished with holiday accessories, these figurines will definitely make unusual accent pieces." On the Girl's sled, "Next to the star, bread and wine sits a splinter box. In the past the people of the Erzgebirge mountains used such boxes to store small items of value." Wendt and Kühn


The boy walks alongside carrying a wonderful Christmas tree!


Simply said, they belong together, and just as they brought joy to Olly Wendt's friends, they offer a special remembrance of the history of Wendt and Kühn and the "warmth" of winter for all of us who rejoice in the art of Wendt and Kühn.

In 2015 Wendt and Kühn will be visiting Boston as a part of the Handmade in Germany World Tour. Being in Maine, not far away, we are truly looking forward to attending. Hope you will too!

Enjoy our Wendt and Kühn Pinterest Board here.

Posted in German Traditions, Trees, Wendt and Kühn

Christmas Tree-Toppers - Finials... a Tradition

Posted on December 06, 2014 | 0 Comments

The tippy-top position (or "crown"), on our Christmas trees invites a very special treatment. Decorative Christmas ornament tree-toppers (treetoppers or finials) have their origin in the Victorian era, when Christmas trees became popular in England. Wikipedia notes that in 1848 The Illustrated London News published a picture of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their family around a Christmas tree topped with an Angel. Thus the Christmas Angel became the most common tree-topper. Christmas stars are very popular, as are elegant Christmas reflectors. Santas, and Snowmen are also commonly used. My Growing Traditions offers some of each from Inge-Glas of Germany (the oldest Christmas ornament company in the world).


Left to right: Spirit of Christmas Dreams, Twinkling Star Tree Top, Vintage Poinsettia


Left to right: St. Nikolaus' Tannenbaum and King of the Hill

These glass finials and the elegant, simple, wooden Spanbaum (also known as span trees, wood shaved trees, chip or chipped trees, twilled trees, and curled trees) tree topper from the Erzgebirge (Germany's Christmas Center) that we happily carry this year for the first time, all require some special care when it comes to decorating your tree. - provides some useful "Tips for Topping the Tree"

  • "When using glass finials, extra care must be used when attaching them to the tree. It can be difficult to attach and/or slide the finial onto the top branch of the tree, although it's a bit easier with an artificial tree. When using a finial on a live tree, one suggestion is to wire or attach a wooden dowel to the top of the tree and slide the finial onto the dowel.
  • Be careful when adding the finial to the dowel or top of tree, make sure it is securely attached and is straight. (... a small amount of cotton batting around the wooden dowel will cushion the glass).
  • If the finial has a reflector in the mold, they can be easily damaged by the dowel or even the tree top branch.... Make sure the dowel/tree branch doesn't reach the spot where the reflector is in the glass.
  • Although the perfect scenario is having a beautifully decorated tree, with the top put on at the very end, in reality it's much easier to put the finial or tree-topper on first!" 

Posted in Angels, Christmas Traditions, German Christmas, German Folk Art, Inge-Glas, Trees

The Shepherd's Fair, Istres, Provence, 19 November to 7 December 2014

Posted on November 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

Every year the town of Istres in Provence celebrates the Shepherd with a two week festival traditionally held in the warmth of late fall/early winter. Founded in 1964, the Shepherd's Fair is a feast of Provençal tradition. Thousands of people attend to enjoy everything pastoral: homage to the transhumance (the seasonal migration of livestock, and the people who tend them, between lowlands and adjacent mountains),

sheep dog trials, music, crafts, food, and a wonderful parade and closing ceremony. All are clearly in love with Provençal tradition, and especially the costumes.We truly enjoyed this video of last year's festival - it is well worth the watch and takes one back to the Provence of the world of Santons.  

We enjoyed seeing the "Santons" we are so familiar with:  especially the White horses of the Camargue, The Drummer (Tambourinaire), The Gardener, The Old Woman from Arles, the Women from Arles, the Shepherds, Sheep, and Goats.

Discovering the Festival and its celebration of the importance of the Shepherd in Provence, certainly made us pleased that we offer the Shepherd's Gift Set. The Shepherd Gift Sets are available in Sizes #1 (Cricket), #2 (Elite), and #3 (Grande) make a nice addition to your collection. 

Save money with each set, which includes the Shepherd, the sheep dog, a sheep, and a hand-shaved tree (Spanbaum) from the Christmas village of Germany, Seiffen. 


Posted in Carbonel Santons, French Christmas, Provence Christmas, Trees

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

New Wood-Shaved Trees - Spanbaum - for 2014

Posted on October 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

We have added to our popular Wood-Shaved Tree - Spanbaum offerings this year and we wanted to post the video here in our blog on how they are created. They are just so very special. They have many names - Spanbaum, span trees, wood shaved trees, chip or chipped trees, twilled trees, and curled trees. They were first created by Spanbaumstecherei (carvers of Spanbaum trees) in the 1930s and are crafted from the wood of a linden tree - the trunk lathed, and then each branch carved from that trunk, curl by curl. Watch the video - the process is exquisite.


We know you will enjoy these two new special trees - a 10" Spanbaum in green which is simply gorgeous  

and a 12" Spanbaum, wood-chipped, tree with a woodpecker nestled in the tree, pecking away...  

In addition, we now carry a Spanbaum, wood-chipped / wood-shaved, Christmas tree topper. 

They are a sight to behold - watching the video, seeing them pictured, and holding them in your hands.

Posted in Birds, German Christmas, German Folk Art, 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