The Thillenvogtei Museum in Rindschleiden offers a series of interactive workshops on customs and traditions of the past. These also include a special programme around St Nicolas’ Day: “Boxemännchen” baking.
The Thillenvogtei Museum originally opened in Wahl in 1991 and moved to an old farm in Rindschleiden in 2015. In this setting, it offers a unique opportunity to travel back in time and experience the rural life around the year 1900. “The idea of the museum is not primarily to exhibit large collections, but to familiarise our visitors with the life and traditions of our ancestors through interactive workshops”, explains André Kirsch, the museum’s administrator.
The museum offers a wide range of different workshops, including bread baking, school lessons around 1900, a carpentry workshop, household management, old schoolyard games and herbology. Depending on the time of year, there are also seasonal programmes, such as Easter workshops or activities around St. Nicholas Day. In autumn, visitors can take part in the apple and potato harvest.
And the concept works! The Thillenvogtei welcomes numerous visitors coming from all over the country. The workshops are booked out months in advance. “Our workshops are mainly attended by children. Mostly school classes and daycare centre groups. But we are also increasingly welcoming senior citizens and interested adults. The concept can be adapted to any age group and so far everyone has had a great time”, reveals André.
A lively experience
Today, a group of younger children from a nearby daycare centre are coming to visit. About half an hour before their arrival, the old stone oven is preheated with bundles of dried rods: “At the beginning, a layer of black soot forms on the top of the oven,” explains André. “The oven is at the right temperature when the layer of soot has disappeared and the stone can be seen everywhere inside the oven again. Then we can start baking!”
Shortly afterwards, the bus with the little guests arrives and the quiet little village of Rindschleiden comes alive with chatter and laughter. The group is welcomed by the animator Angela Bissen. They start off with a short tour of the various rooms of the property, all of which are furnished with authentic furniture and household items from the early 20th century. The living room is appropriately decorated for the Christmas season: a Christmas tree in the corner, a wooden nativity scene in front of it, small wooden toys and a plate with treats from St Nicolas. It doesn’t contain chocolate or sweet sweets like today, but nuts and mandarins. “When my grandma was your age, you couldn’t buy mandarins in the supermarket every day. She usually got one mandarin a year, as a gift from St Nicholas”, Angela explains to the children.
Saint Nick’s Baking Secrets
After Angela read a traditional St Nicholas Day story to the children, they finally head to the bakery. The yeast dough that was prepared early this morning is already waiting. Each child is given a lump of dough to knead vigorously. As soon as all the air bubbles are gone, the rest goes very quickly. The Boxemännchen has its head moulded by hand and two arms and two legs are created by making a few cuts. Then everyone can add eyes, a nose, mouth and coat buttons with raisins or chocolate pearls as they like.
Then it’s off to the oven! Beforehand, everyone writes their name on the baking paper next to their Boxemännchen so that everyone can find them again after baking. Before the children head home with their Boxemännchen, they are taken into the living room once again, where a very special surprise awaits them: St Nicolas himself!
Strangely enough, André has disappeared without a trace shortly beforehand. What a pity that he missed this honourable visitor…
If you would like to bake a Boxemännchen according to the traditional Thillenvogtei recipe at home, you can find the recipe HERE on our website.
Thillenvogtei 3, Maison L-8831 Rindschleiden
The entrance fee for adults is 5 euros. The museum is open to groups by appointment and there are car parking facilities near the museum. For more information and contact details, you can visit the museum’s website or check out Visit Luxembourg for more details.
Pictures: KACHEN & Thillenvogtei