Monday, 13 December 2010


"Knock knock."
"Come in?"

Well, that's how I responded when someone tried to pull the first knock-knock joke on me, ca. 10 years ago. You see, Germany does not have pantos. Or knock-knock jokes. But it does have its own Christmas traditions, among them the tree that the British so gracefully adopted a century-and-a-bit-ago and then transformed it into something... for want of a better word... wrong. Sorry, folks. But a tree needs real candles. And a dad who ties it to a nail in the wall so it won't fall over. And a mum who puts a pragmatic plastic blanket underneath it all to catch dripping wax. And kids who like matches.

But even German Christmas trees (and this is where I gingerly hop off that soap box) are not perfect any more. Why? One word: tinsel. Over here in the Great of Britain, you probably get something akin to a cat's excited tail in plasticky shininess when you ask for tinsel. In Germany, you get linguine-style threads. What's wrong with both of those is the material: tinsel used to be made of aluminium, but nowadays it's plastic. How alchemical: a tin foil turned into PVC. Whether that is really better for the environment remains to be proven (please do enlighten me). What is tragic about this is that it's near impossible to get proper tinsel, old-style.

Before I share the good news, here's your bit of knowledge for the day: the German word for tinsel is 'Lametta'; and the German word for tin foil, only in the context of tinsel (at least where I grew up), is 'Stanniol', and it's been around since the 17th century.
Now for the good news: someone's selling GDR remainders on ebay (just google 'DDR Lametta' on image search to have a peek). And the ever helpful Manufactum (ta for the pic above) sells the real thing. It doesn't come cheap, but it's reusable if you bother taking it down before chucking your tree. Deck the halls with strands of tinsel! Falla lala laaa, la la. La. La.

No comments: