The Night Watchman and Me - Touring Europe's Oldest Cities with a Watchman

Posted by Tamara Roehr on

Gingerbread World Blog - The Medieval Night Watchman of Today
This past summer my 17 year old daughter and I got to travel in Europe visiting the cities of Nuremberg, Prague, Vienna and Budapest. It was a great trip and it was particularly wonderful to spend so much time with just one of my kids!

In Prague, Czech Republic we decided to tour the city in a slightly different way: we took a tour with a Night Watchman from the 1600's. Our tour guide met us in costume and in character - he had a long brown cloak, a real (and sharp) halberd and a lantern. He warned us against the two forms of witchcraft we might encounter (pick pockets and the ubiquitous motor scooters that drive through crowds of people!!).

Our young Watchman tour guide probably would have stayed in character to the whole time - responding to the comments and looks from bypassers with mock bellicosity - but we badgered him with questions about where he was from (Ohio), what he was doing in Prague (teaching English), where the best restaurants were in the year 2018!

Gingerbread World Blog - The Medieval Night WatchmanThis wasn't our first Night Watchman tour in Europe. Years ago we took our then quite young kids on a Night Watchman's Tour of Rothenburg ob der Tauber - a beautiful medieval city in Bavaria. It was just spooky enough to totally captivate our kids!
Gingerbread World Seiffener Volkskunst Night Watchman Smoker Figure

The Night Watchman has a long and interesting history in Europe - their job was to keep the peace and warn of dangers. They don't exist anymore - other than the tour guide ones! But I thought a Night Watchman sitting on your fireplace mantle or among your Christmas decorations or given as a gift would watch over you as a symbol of peace. So I've imported some colourful little Watchmen from Germany! Two of these smaller figures are Smokers and one is a Nutcracker.

Gingerbread World Seiffener Volkskunst Night Watchman Smoker Figure - Limited Edition 2018One of my favorite Smoker figures from our 2018 Collection is the Limited Edition Watchman from the artisans at Seiffener Volkskunst whom we visited this past summer. I love the more abstract features of this angular, larger Smoker. They make only 99 of these and Gingerbread World was able to bring just a few to Canada.

Smokers are traditional German Christmas decorations made in the Eerzgebirge Region south of Leipzig and Dresden. On our trip my daughter and I visited two of the studios that Gingerbread World purchases from and got to see the items being made by hand. Smokers are made in two parts - the bottom part acts as a stand for the smoldering incense cone and the upper part fits over top of the cone. The fragrant smoke from the cone moves through a channel in the upper part through the mouth of the figure making it look like he's smoking or like his breath is frosty in the winter air.

Click on any of the product images to get more info.

Best of the Season to you!

Tamara
Owner @ Gingerbread World

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