Why Are German Christmas Incense Smokers So Unique?

German Christmas Incense Smokers

Das Räuchermännchen, in English called German Incense Smoker Man, Christmas Smoker, or even Smoker Gnome. Whatever name you prefer, one thing is for sure: These cute looking gnomes grow on you once you’ve seen them in action.

How Are German Smoker Men Made?

As many other Christmas decorations, German incense smokers are yet another invention of the toy makers of the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge). They are mostly manufactured of local types of wood, such as alder, birch, beech, lime, maple or spruce.

The traditional smoker man consists of 2 pieces: The base with the feet and incense cone holder on top, and the top, which has a hollow trunk to accommodate the incense cone. The smoke exits through a hole in the mouth.

If you want to more on they actually made, watch the video below:

What about the incense cones?

Oh, yes. Those are very much needed to complete the German Christmas smoker. Of course, they are also made in the Ore Mountains. Traditional scents include: frankincense, pine, honey and cinnamon but these day you can also buy roasted almonds, rosewood, vanilla, patchouli, coffee, lavender, lemon and more.

Even though incense cones have also been used in Asia since around 2000 BC, the incense cones for Christmas smokers have been invented in the Ore Mountains. The inspiration for the use of incense came from local churches. The first incense cones produced in the Ore Mountains date back to 1750.

Knox is probably the most well-known German producer of incense cones. The company is located in the tiny pastoral town Mohorn-Grund with only 1300 folks. Even though we know that incense cones are made of Frankincense tree resin, charcoal, potato flour, sandalwood and beech paste, the exact recipe of the Know cones has been kept a tight secret.

5 Crazy Facts about German Incense Smokers

– The first incense smoker gnomes were made in 1830 and resembled a smoking Turk with pipe. Later these puffing gnomes featured local professions and rural life, e.g. foresters, peddlers, miners, farmers, shepherds, soldiers etc.

– In 1850, these odd-looking figurines made it into a sales catalogue for the 1st time.

– Even legal battles have been fought over German Christmas incense smokers! This happened in the 1990s, when 4 Chinese smoker men were a party to legal proceedings and accused of being cheap look-alike replicas. The Chinese manufacturer was legally ordered to refrain from producing cheap look-alike or would have to pay a fine of € 250,000 (according to Die Zeit).

– For the die-hard fans of German incense smokers, there is a dedicated “Räuchermann Museum” (smoker man museum). It’s located in Cranzahl, Saxony and features over 2,000 of these cute, smoking creatures within 2153 square feet (200 m2).

– Of course, Germans have a record-setting incense smoker man: He is called “Ehrenfried” and sits in the toy-town Seiffen. He’s 16.80 ft. tall (5.12 m), weighs about 4409.25 pounds (~ 2 tons). It took about 4 years to build this giant until he was finally revealed in 2014. …And YES, he smokes! Go here for more pictures


Worlds largest German incense smoker @Freie_Presse

The one thing, all of them have in common: They create a cozy, warm and relaxing atmosphere and fit into any home. Not just that they look cute, but once they start puffing in their silent, steady manner and spread the scent of Christmas incense in your home you get certainly hooked on them.

If you are a fan of German smokers or if these guys are finally growing on you, check out our selection of German Incense Smokers. You may find your own!