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German Smokers and Incense Burners

Updated on November 4, 2015

Do You Have a German Smoker?

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Wooden German Smokers

When I was in 3rd grade, I lived in Germany on a US military base. I remember around every Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday the burning of incense, my mom's Christmas pyramid, the german nutcrackers, and many great wooden ornaments filled the christmas tree.

To this day, every time I smell incense, it takes me back over 30 years to our apartment in Germany and those incent burners which are now referred to as German Smokers, and the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

A german smoker or incense burner has a hallow inside where the incense cone sits, you light it with a match and put the body on, the smoke then comes out of the figures mouth. The image is probably not too polictically correct in the US these days, however, it brings back a lot of memories.

History of the German Smoker

German Smokers or Racherman can be traced back to the late 1600's in the Miriquidi Forest area of southeastern Germany. The original smoker was a one piece figurine with the incense on the outside.

With the invention of the incense cone, they started making two piece smokers with the incense burning inside of the wooden smoker. It wasn't until the late 1800's when the mines began to run out that the people in this area began using their woodworking skills to make the wooden toys and figurines they would become famous for today.

My Favorite German Smokers - are dressed like Saint Nicholas

My favorite german smokers are dressed like Santa Clause, or in Germany St. Nick. I think these are my favorite because it reminds me of the innocense of childhood and yet had the sophistication of being a non toy. As the one pictured, not all depictions of Santa were in a red suit, a lot of the natural wood is displayed, but you can still find the traditional US red santa suit.

The Three Kings Smokers

I also like the smokers that are part of a set. Most sets consist of three smokers and when you light them up, they make the house smell very Christmasy. The three smokers below depict three kings.

German Smokers for Every Occupation

As you look around for different smokers, you will find you can find one for almost everything and for every occupation.

Common folk incense burner

The image of a german smoker is typically of the common man instead of political figures, soldiers, and royalty. Probably the most prolific incense burner you will find is that of a german hunter in a german costume or outfit with a gun just enjoying his time in the woods.

Chimney Sweep Smoker

Another favorite figure is the chimney sweep in his all black outfit and usually carrying a ladder.

Incense Cones for your German Smoker

Incense cones come in many different scents: pine, frankenscence, vanilla, jasmine, cedar, sandalwood, and the list goes on and on. Just pick your favorite scent and fill the house with it. Be sure you purchase cones that will easily stand in your wooden figure.

What is your favorite tradition?

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I landed on your Christmas pyramid lens because today I learned for the first time that they existed. I saw your link to "German Smokers" and I just had to come over to take a look. Love the Christmas pyramids, and love the German Smokers (specially the three wise men). Every year I buy a few new Christmas decorations, and I now know what I'm getting this year!

    • CoeGurl profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      These are so cute! I'd never heard of them before. My favorite is the mini Santa with Christmas tree and doll.

    • Craftymarie profile image


      6 years ago

      Congrats on being one of the 35 favorite product review lenses :)

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image


      6 years ago

      Clever lens idea. BTW, congratulations on having one of the 35 favorite product review lenses!


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