Franconian Word of the Month

Zwedschgamännla

Zwedschgamännla
Zwedschgamännla Photo by Guido Casati

Zwedschgamännla /zved-ʒgʌ-mæn-lʌ/

Deutsch: Pflaumenmännchen

English: Plum Man

One of the more questionable Christmas traditions in Franconia, and especially in Nuremberg, might be something you can buy on the world-famous Christkindlesmarkt (at least if it were to open). 

While most people go there for some Glühwein,a sausage in a bun, and to buy some nice Christmas gifts, there are also some stands that sell the so-called Zwedschgamännla. They are, as the name hints, little men (and women!) made from prunes, which have no real reason to exist except that you can use one as a replacement doll. They look nice enough to some people, which might be why they buy them, for sure it’s not for their nutritional value as they are not fit for consumption. Certainly, you should never eat one, since a) this kind of constitutes cannibalism, and b) is against Franconian tradition.

The story of how they were created is full of legends and guesswork, but it appears that there was once a man in Nuremberg who became ill, but recovered through the songs sang to him by his neighbours’ kids. He gifted the very first Zwedschgenmännla to the children for Christmas. How much of that you actually believe is true, I will leave up to you…

1 Comment

  1. Since a few days there is also a really nice video about a Nurmberg Prune Men (Zwetschgenmännle”) manufactory of the family Schrödel on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWVzuA1UIG4 where you can see how they are made.

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