Solveig introduced us to this beautiful German tradition back in 1993 when we first met and the tradition has continued to this day. Even though Solveig is not physically here, her presence, in all we remember and honour her with is deeply felt. We feel her all around us like a gentle whisper, supporting and loving us as she has always done. Our plates are ready!
What is a Bunter Teller?
Bunter Teller translates as “colorful Plate”… but it’s much more than that. It is a plate of colorful goodies like cookies, fruit, candy and chocolates that is given at Christmas. A special cardboard plate decorated with pretty Christmas images… loaded up with our favorite cookies and other special treats. These were ours to eat, and not have to share. Solveig also set out a BIG Bunter Teller on the table LOADED with home baked cookies, candies and other treats… and spent the whole season replenishing it daily. Domino Steine, Spekulatius, Lebkuchen, Chocolate Glocken, Eiskonfekt, and MORE.
Where does the tradition of the Bunter Teller come from?
The Bunter Teller is mentioned in a song from the 19th century, “Lasst Uns Froh und Munter Sein” While we associate putting out Shoes for St. Nicholas, somewhere along the line, a plate was added to collect goodies.
One theory goes like this…Originally, Christmas trees were decorated with nuts, fruits and cookies. Kids loved that they could help themselves to these special seasonal treats… and then glass ornaments and lametta started showing up on trees. More and more families began using them, and the treats were crowded off the tree in favor of these beautiful and re-usable decorations. But the kids still wanted treats (glass balls are beautiful, but you can’t eat them) … so a plate was set by the tree, loaded with the cookies that used to hang from it. In a sense, the treats moved from shoes to tree to plate… Today kids get treats in shoes on Nicholas Tag, and on plates for Christmas.
German Paper Cookie Plates
The cookies and treats on the plate are special, but the plates themselves have a story too. Paper plates were invented around 150 years ago by a retired museum director, who was also a master Bookbinder, in the Brandenburg town of Luckenwalde. He had read an article about how unhygienic it was to put food on old newspapers, so he did some experimenting with pulp made from sawdust. In 1867 he got his first patent, and before you know it, paper plates were in use. Picture plates came soon after this, and by the 1880s, special Christmas plates for Christmas confections were being offered. Colorful plates with pictures of Children playing, the Weinachtsmann, and the Bethlehem stable. What’s interesting is that the pictures in the advertisements for the plates held mostly cookies and sweets instead of the traditional fruit and nuts. People loved the look… and started filling their plates with more calorie bomb sweets and fewer apples, oranges, dates and almonds.
Today, it wouldn’t be Christmas in a German Household without a Bunter Teller on the table, filled with all of your favorites. Whether you use the vintage paper plates, or you use regular serving plates, it is certain to become a favorite tradition in your home too.
Bunter Teller for New Year
Another time to have Bunter Teller is New Years Eve. The bounty of sweets on the plate represents the best of the past year, and is a hope for a plentiful New Year!
Special thanks to: https://germangirlinamerica.com/