About German Smokers

German Smokers or Smoking Men

erzgebirge smokers
The smoking men and the smell of incense cones belong to the Erzgebirgian Christmas just like the nutcracker. An important component in the development for the smoking men was the use of Frankincense (Weihrauch) in the Christmas tradition/ Frankincense was next to gold and Myrrh one of the three presents the three holy kings brought to the Baby Jesus.It is estimated that the production of smoking cones started around 1750 in the village of Crottendorf in the Erzgebirge. The “Heilig-Ohmd-Lied” accounts of the usage of smoking cones around 1830, although the cones were not yet placed inside of a figurine but burned on a small tray.Throughout the 19th century, public smoking was a widespread habit that made the sight of a man with a pipe in his mouth a common one. This is believed to have been the inspiration for the creation of the first smoking men.

The origins are believed to date back to 1856/57 in Heidelberg - which today is a part of the town of Seiffen. The smoking men were made the same way as the nutcrackers, although the smoking man consists of two parts that are put on top of each other. On the lower part the smoking cone is placed on a little tin circle, the upper part works as the smoking kettle. Unlike the nutcrackers, that traditionally represent officers and other officials, the toy craftsmen chose everyday people as models for their smoking men. Favorites are miners, shepherds, chimneysweepers and others.