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German Christmas Museum

History and tradition in picturesque Rothenburg.

Käthe Wohlfahrt, the world-famous Christmas store headquartered in the medieval walled city of Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber is the home of the German Christmas Museum. It houses a permanent collection of ornaments, decorations, toys and artifacts depicting the evolution of German Christmas traditions and practices from the Middle Ages through about 1950.

Included in the collection are extraordinary, valuable items made of glass, cotton, wool, paper and wax, metals, "Dresden cardboard," and other unusual materials.

Other exhibition areas show groupings of Santa Clauses, Christmas angels, nutcrackers, tree stands, paper Nativity scenes, lamps, Advent calendars, and pyramids from the Erzgebirge region.

Visitors first learn about German Christmas traditions and history, including the Christmas tree, a German invention, prior to making their way through several rooms of exhibits. An important highlight of the Museum is a 5,000-piece display of a private Austrian collection of Christmas tree ornaments on permanent loan to the Museum. A large private collection of nutcrackers is likewise a major part of the exhibition, which occupies a space of about 250 square meters.

That this first-ever Christmas Museum should have been created by the world's foremost Christmas store and housed in middle Franconia should come as no surprise. Literally hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Wohlfahrt store in Rothenburg, as well as subsidiaries in Oberammergau, Garmisch, Heidelberg, Rüdesheim and Nürnberg, Germany, as well as in two picturesque towns in neighboring countries - Riquewihr, France, and Bruges, Belgium - and now even in the USA, at Stillwater, Minnesota.

Felicitas Höptner is curator of the Museum which is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays until 4 p.m., and Sundays May through December from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A modest entrance fee of €4 for adults will help sustain costs and permit expansion. A discounted group and children's price offers substantial savings.

For complete information on the Museum and its progress as well as on all Wohlfahrt Christmas and gift items including on-line shopping, or to order the comprehensive catalogue, visit their website at www.wohlfahrt.com. Rothenburg o.d.T. is 45 kms south of Würzburg on Autobahn 7; 26 kms north of Autobahn 6, Crailsheim, on the Wüerttemberg-Bavarian border where the German Romantic and Castle Roads meet.