Have you seen the nutcrackers, smokers, and other wooden figurines and ornaments in our Gift Shop? Most of them come from a German region known as the Erzgebirge. It is a narrow band of low mountains, the highest of which are barely 4,000 feet. The mountains run roughly east-west and form the border between the German state of Saxony and the Czech Republic.
Literally meaning "Ore Mountains," this was where the bronze age began about 2500 B.C. It was one of the world's leading centers of mining and smelting up to the 19th century, producing silver, tin, and cobalt. But mining became less profitable then and the region's miners needed another source of income. Because the area was high and cold and had a short growing season, it never was an agricultural center. So the people of the Erzgebirge turned to the manufacture of wooden objects, especially wooden toys.
Today most of the wooden ornaments you see, not just in our Gift Shop, but in Christmas markets all across Germany, and even around the world, come from this tiny region only about the size of Delaware. Stop by, admire the German craftsmanship and take home a new heirloom for your family.