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angle-left A few Alsatian Christmas tales
A few Alsatian Christmas tales

A few Alsatian Christmas tales

Published on 24 October 2019

Did you know that Christmas owes some of its most beautiful tales to Alsace? So in this early autumn season, take the time for a break and cozy up under the duvet to read wonderful Christmas tales.

Alsace is one of the French regions most strongly marked by Christmas. The first Christmas market was held in Alsace — more specifically Strasbourg — in 1570. Since then, the real spirit of Christmas has continued to bring this beautiful region to life, particularly through wonderful tales to discover or rediscover as a family.

Here are three of them, to read as you wait patiently for Christmas.

The cardinal of Rohan and the Chrischtkindelsmarik

One evening before Christmas, a cardinal was passing in his carriage through place du Château, where the Chrischtkindelsmarik was in full swing. An old tradeswoman had spread out all her treasures along the way, including her beautiful porcelain crockery. On seeing her, the cardinal had a crazy idea and gave his coachman the order to drive over the woman's display, sending all the beautiful items that she had set out for visitors to admire flying in pieces. Devastated, she didn't have time to cry, when she saw the cardinal himself coming toward her, getting down from his carriage and giving her a purse full of money, worth much more than the objects he had just broken. He wanted to repay the damage caused by his princely whim.

The elves of Kerbholz

In the Munster valley, the Kerbholz stands tall, a high mountain whose valley is covered with delicious pastures. It is here that tasty Munster cheeses are prepared in many dairies. Just before Christmas, the elves leave their underground homes to come to produce their best cheeses in red copper cauldrons. On highly anticipated Christmas Eve night, the elves come down to the villages in the valley and offer the cheeses produced in their mysterious workshop to the most honest and impoverished households.

The Schlüpfermatt

A stone's throw away from Altenberg there is a meadow called Schlüpfermatten. During the Thirty Years' War, the villagers had to flee their homes and take refuge in chalets, forests or mountains. Two women, who just happened to find themselves pregnant at the same time, took refuge in a cave and during their stay there gave birth to their babies at the same time: Christmas night. One gave birth to a girl and the other to a boy. Even though it was terribly cold that day, Christmas worked its magic as both children became strong and healthy. They fell in love with each other and decided to get married once they grew up.


Texts taken from: Noël en Alsace : rites, coutumes et croyances. Published by Degorce, 2018.
Illustration: P. Kauffmann
Strasbourg Museum: M. Bertola