Find eternal Christmas in Seiffen

Find eternal Christmas in Seiffen

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

Just because Christmas season isn’t currently happening doesn’t mean you can’t love the magic of the holiday all year long. If you consider yourself a Christmas addict, have I got the place for you! Known as the Spielzeugdorf (Toy Village), the German town of Seiffen brings Christmas joy to adults and children alike. Located in the state of Saxony, this little town is nestled near the Czech Republic border, giving the north pole a run for its money! 

Seiffen dates back to 1324 when miners came to the area for silver and tin. Once the hills were stripped in the late 1600s, miners had to find new work. Since the miners were also woodworkers, it was easy to transition into making toys and decorations. The miners-turned- woodworkers produced high-quality toys at budget prices, due to the local economy. 

Fun fact: the pyramids that are so coveted today are actually tiny versions of what the miners built to bring light and air to the mine. The pyramids were also a symbol of the warmth that awaited them at home. The miner’s families kept more decorative versions of the pyramids burning in the home as a sign of hope that the miners would soon return. 

Today, Seiffen is like Santa’s workshop, but nowhere near the North Pole. The shops carry a multitude of toys and traditional German Christmas decorations. From nutcrackers and smokers to arches and pyramids, you’re sure to find exactly what you were searching for to perfect your Christmas decor. To get a feel for just how much the town’s history is embedded in the toy-making industry, check out the local toy museum. 

The Spielzeug Museum is home to 5,000 pieces and a great place to see just how much skill and dedication goes into making toys and decorations in this area. Think ornate wooden chandeliers, carousels, horses, dollhouses and more. The museum creates an awareness for the area’s unique talents and covers over 300 years of toy history. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

The Freilicht Museum (open-air museum) has been part of the Toy Museum since 1973. This outdoor museum, made up of various buildings, chronicles what life and culture were like from the middle of the 19th century to the early 20th century. This museum believes attention to detail is key, and the items you see within the buildings are all authentic. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

Now it’s time to shop for a few items of your own. You can’t miss a visit to Richard Glaesser, a retail store and workshop. Richard Glaesser started out as an independent distributor in 1932 selling coffee, tea, cocoa, etc. By 1934 he had added wooden figures like chests and quill boxes to his product line. Eventually, Glaesser made figures from Christmas stories and fairy tales. Today the store is known for extremely beautiful and intricate pyramids and music boxes. You can shop in the retail area daily from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. There is no shortage of candle holders, window ornaments, trees, pyramids, nativity scenes and more available for purchase. 

If you’d like to take a workshop tour, you’ll see craftsmen working on decorations by hand. From painting and sanding to carving and gluing, the talented men and women working here know the value of hard work and attention to minutiae detail. The workshop is open Monday - Saturday from 10 a.m. - noon and 1 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. 

Another amazing store and workshop to visit is Seiffener Volkskunst eG. Here, you can buy and build a toy yourself! Book an appointment online to craft your very own toy, and tour the workshop as well. Of course, you can also opt to just shop for pre-made toys. Save big by buying directly from the manufacturer. Think Käthe Wohlfahrt quality at half the price.

While the retail shops are perfect for purchasing items, you’ll also find family shops displayed in home windows. You just knock on the door and ask to buy the piece you are interested in. Talk about knowing exactly where your product came from! Purchasing items like this is almost unheard of nowadays with Amazon. What a wonderful story you’ll have when talking about the experience of buying your Christmas piece in Seiffen.

If the thought of leaving the Christmas season behind makes you blue, fear not! The town of Seiffen is keeping the holiday spirit alive all year long. Though you can’t dash through the snow in the summer, you certainly can buy a toy-sized, one-horse open sleigh whenever you please. Get ready to deck the halls with all the amazing trinkets you’ll find in Seiffen. 

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