The Salzburg Christmas Museum, Austria

Every so often I discover a museum that really elevates my spirit. As a non-European who celebrated a southern hemisphere Christmas I always love to see the incredible European Christmas decorations (very different to our African ones!) and to experience a colder, magical European Christmas (preferably with snow too!). This year I started quite a bit earlier with a trip to the Salzburger Weihnachtsmuseum or Salzburg Christmas Museum in Austria.

The Salzburg Christmas Museum, situated on the Mozartplatz, is a little bit hidden within a cafe. The Christmas objects were collected over a 40-year period by Ursula Kloiber and today this collection is of important cultural significance for the country.

Initially, you are shown the history of the advent calendar in Austria and certain parts of Germany. It is amazing to see the little white doors comprising old advent calendars. In fact, these small doors display various kinds of advent calendar designs which in turn also have more small doors within and which once contained chocolates or other small gifts for children – to be opened in the days leading up to Christmas.

Various books and detailed collectables pertaining to the advent period and Christmas in general are also on display.

After the section about advent, the museum becomes particularly interesting and you get to view little Christmas models or scenes. These models take the shape of Christmas markets selling all sorts of food stuffs and Christmassy decorations.

I even came across this little model below (or dolls house if you will) which depicts a bakery creating Christmas foodstuffs. The detail on the models is just magnificent – so much care has been taken to replicate pots, pans, utensils, moulds (see the top of the photo below) and even the clothing worn by the bakers.

And of course, a Christmas museum wouldn’t be complete without a couple of nativity scenes.

Next, you get to see how Christmas decorations have changed through the decades. For me, this was in fact the most intriguing part of the museum. Take for instance these little pram decorations from the 1900s. They are made from wire, wax and gold cardboard and they look very different from today’s Christmas decorations.

I also absolutely loved these nutcrackers in festive costumes. Traditionally, the nutcracker has always been a symbol of the festive season with origins in Germany.

And Krampus (the devil-like anthropomorphic creature from Germanic folklaw) makes an entrance together with St. Nikolaus – representing good versus evil. As a non-European, this was a new discovery for me. I had seen images of him before but only recently learned of the mythology behind this iconic devilish creature. Better make sure i’m a good girl this Christmas or else!

If you are visiting Salzburg be sure to stop by the Salzburg Christmas Museum or Salzburger Weihnachtsmuseum, a small yet very special museum that will leave you excited at the prospect of the upcoming festive season.