Category: Society / December 17, 2012 12:37 PM EST
As Christmas rapidly approaches, there is a buzz about the Christian Ulbricht nutcracker workshop in Seiffen, East Germany.
In all of the factory rooms, craftsmen and women are busy drilling, sawing, varnishing and assembling the many different wooden toys the company sells, ready to be packaged and sent to their customers in Germany and across the globe.
From tiny tree decorations to giant imposing nutcracker statues, products made by this company and other local manufacturers have made the area world famous, and each week hordes of tourists come to take a look.
But Seiffen was not always renowned for its wooden toy industry; the town's success came about out of necessity, as the assistant to the manager of the Christian Ulbricht nutcracker house, Stefan Schenk, explains:
"The Ore Mountains are characterised by the mining industry. There used to be a mining industry and when the iron was no longer available, the miners had to basically come up with something to keep their families alive and the miners became makers of wooden toys. It was all small family enterprises that gradually continued and the toys were then exported and became world-famous."
Every year, the diligent human production line at Christian Ulbricht's nutcracker house assembles over a hundred thousand wooden toys, with each employee playing his or her own small part in the detailed handiwork. Prices range from ten euros (13USD) for a 'Wackelmensch', a small figure that wobbles if you push it gently, to around 2,500 euros (3289USD) for a premium nutcracker, a little more than one metre tall.
Schenk says many of his firm's wooden toys go to clients in the USA and Canada. This year, they are also exporting to Brazil for the first time. There, instead of snow, the wooden toys can look forward to a little sun and sand as a festive backdrop.