There’s a common adage that says when you PCS back to the US from Germany you’ll bring one of the following souvenirs with you: a European car, a schrank… or a baby. Here are a few other options that are, perhaps, smaller, and less expensive in the long run.
CONTRIBUTED BY CALIFORNIA GLOBETROTTER
Every country has their own unique traditional gifts which over time became popular travel souvenirs. Wanderlusting tourists who want a special thingamabob to remember their awesome time traveling through that country purchase these special items.
Germany has many wonderful souvenirs, many of which are hand made and have a long history before they became souvenirs for tourists.
Here are some popular souvenirs found in Germany:
1. Rauchermann – “Smoking Man”
Traditionally, Germans would lite an incense in their house as a way to ward off evil spirits which originated in the Ore Mountains. Now just a popular knickknack house decoration on a daily basis, or as a Christmas decoration if you buy the smoking Santa Clause. My favorite is the smoking Bavarian man. However, they come in all forms which include doctors, farmers and miners. Typically, they can be found in many tourist shops or in many Christmas markets. I, myself have not gotten around to buying one, yet every time I see one I stop and admire them!
2. Cuckoo Clock
These beautifully, hand carved wooden clocks originate possibly from the Black Forest in Baden-Wurttemburg but are also found in Austria and Switzerland. Each clock is unique and prices vary depending on how big or small or decorative you want your clock to be. Many clocks chime in every 15 minutes and make beautiful wall decorations. Many stores offer to mail your beautiful clock to your home as usually they are too large to carry home in your suitcase. The further away you get from the Black Forest, the harder they are to find. I grew up in a house with 3 different cuckoo clocks because my family loved them so much. We loved the chimes so much. Too bad one of them broke.
3. Lederhosen & Dirndl
Most commonly worn and found in Bavaria, many people who come to Bavaria want to take part in Oktoberfest or other beer festivals in the most traditional way by wearing traditional Tracht. Most likely to only be worn once, people still like to feel more like a local than a tourist when drinking and rubbing elbows with the Bavarians! That was my first big purchase in Bavaria so that I could feel more like a local when going to Dult.
4. Bavarian Gambart
If you truly want to top off your traditional Lederhosen outfit, then be sure to buy a traditional Gambart. But be warned, these hats are incredibly expensive and can easily cost up to 3,000€ as they are hand made with hair from a chamois.
If there is one souvenir which is especially iconic to Germany, it would have to be the Nutcracker. Hand carved soldiers which are most commonly found in many German households for cracking nuts around a Christmas fire with the family. Nutcrackers have been cracking nuts since the 1800s and have also been known to be a good luck charm and keeping evil spirits away by barring their teeth. A family favorite as my Mimi had quite the collection.
6. Porcelain Beer Steins or Beer Glass
One of the most sought after souvenirs from Germany for those who are beer lovers or just people who love awesome cups to drink their beer from, these can be found throughout Germany. Each is uniquely hand painted with images from local attractions and made from porcelain, stone, pewter and glass. Sometimes, you can even find beer steins with a metal lid also beautifully decorated. If beer steins aren’t your cup of beer, then look for beautiful beer glasses, specifically for Weizen or Helles beers with awesome designs for the town you are visiting. Many people really love to try to take/buy the Maß from Oktoberfest, too but this actually isn’t allowed. You can buy your glass, but don’t take it!
7. Lebkuchen Hearts
At any time of year, somewhere in Germany you can always find a cute little sweets stall, especially at festivals or Christmas markets. Gingerbread cookies made in the shape of a heart are hand made and etable, most save their Lebkuchen hearts as a form of souvenir as a token of their time at some form of festival. Many times, a loved one buys a Lebkuchen to show their affection for their lover/friend. Each Lebkuchen heart has something different written in the center of the cookie from “I Like You” to “I Love You” and everything in between. The bigger, the more profound the love is!
8. Das Boot
This could possibly get me hate mail, but ever since the movie “Beerfest”, this beer glass in the shape of a boot has become slightly more popular. Lots of people expect to find it everywhere in Germany, but actually they are hard to find and almost never found in any beer hall (that I know of!). However, you can find these touristy beer boots at many gift shops.
What are some of your favorite souvenirs that you’ve discovered – and procured – for yourself while here in Germany?
California Globetrotter originally published this post on her website on June 16, 2015; we are republishing it here with her permission.