Tiny Christmas villages are one of the holiday’s decorating mainstays.
Nicknamed putz houses, a German word that translates loosely to “putter around” (’cause that’s what you do, putz around with the trinkets until they’re just how you want them), the tradition began with wooden houses or house-shaped candy boxes from Germany.
But with the introduction of holiday string lights came a new kind of putz house, straight from Japan (where much of America’s Christmas décor production shifted after WWI).
In the late 1920s, Japanese designers created simple cardboard houses with holes in the bottom for the lights to go through, illuminating the houses’ cellophane windows.
Putz house proliferation, at least in Japan, died out when WWII began, reducing the collectibles’ prime period to just about 10 years.
But, they’re finding a whole new life this holiday season.