"Edible” Christmas tree decorations - from the Lebzelter and confectioner
18.11.2017 - 11.02.2018
The practice of decorating Christmas trees, mainly with nuts, apples, and cookies, dates back to as early as 1600. Since most of the decorations were edible, the Christmas tree was also sometimes referred to as a Fressbaum (edibles tree). Of course, children loved these trees.
The fragrant, sweet cookies that hung on the trees as decorations were made by a Lebzelter (a gingerbread baker) and by confectioners.
Gingerbread decorations included lebkuchen with frosting or colorful wafers and geometric Tirggel (a traditional Christmas cookie made with honey and flour). Tragacanth, a product used by prestigious confectioners, originated in the noble courts of the Renaissance. During the first half of the 19th century, the fine sugary paste was painted and used to make Christmas tree decorations. Decorations made of egg and sugar were also popular. These colorful patterned cookies with baked-in paper hangers could be hung on every Christmas tree. Products made of marzipan were absolute luxury products, since all of the ingredients were very expensive. Anise cookies or springerle also served as colorful decorations for the tree and are still very popular at Christmastime.
The exhibition will transport you back to this time of sweet and often forgotten Christmas tree decorations. It also displays traditions from different Swiss cantons and neighboring regions, with impressive insights offered by the items on loan from collector Alfred Dünnenberger.
On certain days, we'll be cooking up the exhibition live. A baker from the famous Bachmann confectionery in Basel will be baking spicy almond biscuits and giving them out fresh from the oven. With a bit of luck, there will always be a little something to snack on.