The twin cottages

The "House of St. Nicholas" at Christmas Markets in Bielefeld and London

Paper, pencil and the right technique – that's all it takes to produce the "House of St. Nicholas". At the Bielefeld Christmas Market, though, there is a creation which offers much more than such a line drawing: there, the man in the red suit has a Feuerzangenbowle (a hot winter drink of wine, rum and fruit juices, served in an earthenware bowl) stand , a grill and a room with a fireplace -- a home with many comforts. And this popular stand run by the Schneider family has, for some time, had an international twin. 

The little house and its popular features -- or rather, an exact copy -- now brings a Christmas mood not only to the Bielefeld historic inner city but also to "Winter Wonderland" in London's Hyde Park. This is how it came about: in 2007 one of the promoters of the London attraction was visiting in Bielefeld. He was searching the country for the typical German Christmas Market experience. At the house with the traditional tile roof, steaming drink from an earthenware pot, and beechwood-fired grill, he knew he had struck it rich. 

Both stands are operated by the Schneider family, whose roots in the exhibitor stand tradition go back to the 17th Century. With hard work and talented artisanship they manufactured the houses in the Tyrol style with the support of a stall builder from Kiel. A special feature of the "House of St. Nicholas" is the wooden floor, which prevents feet from getting too cold in the winter. Loaded onto six semi-trailers, the "House of St. Nicholas" first went on tour to the British metropolis in 2008.

There, the German specialties are also offered – authentically reproduced, with no subtitles. Only with the talking elk's head, which adorns the cottages in both Bielefeld and London, is there a small discrepancy: the representative of this species at "Winter Wonderland" speaks only English.

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