According to a British psychologist yesterday was Blue Monday or the saddest day of the year. His reasons: Christmas and New Years are in the past so homes are now bare of decorations and resolutions have already been broken; December’s credit card statements have appeared; the weather is less than hospitable here in the Northern Hemisphere; SAD has taken hold of many people; and we are only halfway through the longest (or what seems like the longest) month of the year.
I’m not sure how valid any of that is but I do have to admit that the house seems a little dreary without the decorations and over a week of rain, sleet, snow, fog, ice and cloud make it even more so. However there is a hard and fast rule in our house – the decorations, which go up on St Lucia Day, come down the day after Epiphany. As Laurent was taking them down on January 7th I took pictures of several pieces that decorate tables and window sills here on Water Street at Christmastide .
In one of the arcades between Getreidegasse and Universitätsplatz in Salzburg’s Old Town there is a small shop that sells pewter figurines created by the Wilhelm-Schweizer Company. On each of our Whitsundtide visits Laurent picked up a pewter piece that caught his fancy.
These first three are definitely Christmas decorations.. The tree is approximately 10 inches in height and the figures just a little over five.
Wilhelm-Schweizer has been producing individually cast and hand-painted pewter figurines since 1796 and is still owned by the Schweizer family.
Though their Christmas and Easter collections are their most popular lines – particularly with tourists – the Bavarian folkloric figures are also charming. The little Chimney Sweep does have a New Year connection. In several Eastern European countries there is the tradition of touching a button on a sweep’s jacket for good luck in the coming year. And I suppose the clock seller does have a connection, howbeit tenuous, to New Year’s Eve.
Of course we took a look at their recent catalogue and saw at least two more zinnfiguren that we’d love to add to the small group. Well a return to the Whitsun Festival and Salzburg, if not planned, is at least on the bucket list.
The word for January 17th is:
Pewter pyoo͞′tər: [noun]
1.1 Any of numerous silver-gray alloys of tin with various amounts of antimony, copper, and sometimes lead, used widely for fine kitchen utensils and tableware. The normal ratio is 4 parts tin to 1 part e.g. lead.
1.2 Pewter articles considered as a group.
1.3 A material made of calcined tin, used in polishing marble.
Early 14c., peutre, from Old French peautre (12c.) and Medieval Latin peutrum, from Vulgar Latin *peltrum “pewter”.