And now the answer to the first question in our Pop Quiz:
We wanted to know from you what this picture is. This was taken during our stop at the Christmas market in Gera, Thuringia. Here’s the answer:
Futterkrippe (rough translation for cratch)
Believe it or not, a manger set is not complete without a cratch for the animals. This goes back to the story of how Jesus Christ was born in accordance to the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Mary and Joseph went from Nazareth to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. Yet when he was born, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, for the inn was full and there was no other place left to stay. The animals depicted in the manger, the donkey, camel, and sheep were present at the time of the birth and they needed to be fed accordingly. This is where the cratch came into the picture. It is filled with fodder or other feed, and animals can eat off that, while having their heads protected from the rain, etc. by a roof
One can see these in the manger sets at many of the Christmas markets in Germany, especially those in areas that are surrounded by forests, like the ones in Thuringia, Saxony, Hesse and Bavaria. They’re usually made out of wood from pine and fir trees and are decorated with needles, as depicted in the picture. Some are attached to the manger set, while others just stand out alone, representing a symbol of hope and prosperity that would come out of the birth of our Lord. Others are integrated into a fairy tale that has animals in there. In real life, cratches are used on farms for livestock and in forests for wildlife, in particular, deer, boar and the like. But in the case of the Christmas market, they are a specialty at the market for people to see. So the next time you see one of these at a German Christmas market, remember what it is, what it is used for and how it was tied in with the story of Baby Jesus and the fairy tales.
Now, back to the Christmas market tour in Berlin and the next market place visited, which is….. 🙂