Small stable in front of a mighty mountain backdrop – Bavaria

In the second Corona winter, the famous Marktredwitz landscape cribs can be viewed – even if not on the “Crib Path” in its traditional form. Some of the buildings are exhibited in the Egerland Museum, and individual “Kripperers” in the Upper Franconian town will open their doors as usual from Boxing Day to show their works. However, due to the high number of corona infections, the city does not offer the usual city and daycare tours as well as bus tours to the various districts for the second year in a row. “We cannot answer for that,” said a city spokeswoman.

The Marktredwitz crib culture has been included in the nationwide directory of intangible cultural heritage since this year. Between Christmas Day and Epiphany, you can usually just drop by and ring the doorbell at the families who take part in the “Krippenweg” in the 17,000-inhabitant town and exhibit their buildings – this is the popular tradition. This year, however, it is best to call in advance so that you can control it a little, said Albin Artmann. He has been a “Kripperer” for 45 years and, like some others, exhibits a landscape crib in his own house on his own initiative. Four nativity scene builders have also built their landscapes in the Egerland Museum. He thinks that not as many visitors will come to him as usual, said Artmann. But he expects some interested people from abroad, including other “Kripperers” “You then talk shop with them.”

More than a marginal event: the stable scene with the birth of Jesus always occurs, but is typically not the focus of the Marktredwitz cribs.

(Photo: Nicolas Armer / dpa)

The nativity scene in Marktredwitz is not just about the buildings, but actually also about social exchange during the Christmas season. Marktredwitz cribs are usually huge landscapes that fill entire cellars and garages. They are built anew and differently every year, as Artmann explained. “This year I only built up rural life: a blacksmith’s shop, a beer garden, musicians, cows, goats – and Prince Regent Luitpold – he always has to be there.” The figure of the Wittelsbacher can be found in many Marktredwitz nativity scenes due to the origin of the custom in the 19th century. Also because there was a great longing for the Alps at that time, the scenery of the nativity scenes is mostly relocated to the Alpine region. The stable scene with the birth of Jesus always occurs, but is not the focus.

Only a few kilometers further, in the Wunsiedler Fichtelgebirgsmuseum, 62 nativity scenes from Bavaria and Bohemia can be seen in an exhibition until January 23 of next year. Specifically, the loans come from Upper Franconia, Upper Palatinate, Lower Bavaria, Karlsbad, Pilsen and South Bohemia. You can tell from the cribs that they come from a cross-border, shared cultural area, explained Christina Heydenreich from the museum. Everything is very blurred, there are more similarities than differences. The exact origin, according to Heydenreich, can be seen, for example, in the different costumes, the facial expressions and the style of the figures.

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