One of my all time favorite Christmas decorations is Gänseliesel. I just spoke to my wife about the appropriate German spelling. Although my surname is German (actually Austrian), it is nothing more than a made up name my paternal grandfather made up to avoid being made fun of, is this perhaps a Koerner family theme? Back to the goose girl…

Gänseliesel is apparently the name of a fountain in some city in Germany. My wife just told me the name, but as with the German spelling, it is very possible that my short term memory is at fault here. Besides being a fountain, it is the name of a very little wooden German ornament. Years ago, we purchased two of them. They are quite small, and I am guessing they were made in the part of East Germany where the production of ornaments made of wood is so popular. It is a very tiny version of the German “Pyramids” that feature candles surrounding a little diorama of sorts with a fan-like apparatus on top that catches the rising heat from the candles and turns. Gänseliesel does not have candles, it is really too small, so it must catch whatever rising heat there is in order to move. I have often placed it near heat registers and then watch Liesel chase her geese.

Ours was purchased as a set of two, as I mentioned, one for us and one for my then department chairman (a German teacher) for a departmental gift exchange in which I had received his name. Ours has survived many years of use and abuse, falling, being knocked over by a child or dog, and breaking more than once. I am quite adept in the use of Elmer’s Glue and have put this wooden object back together numerous times.

At the Christkindlmarket a short time ago, I saw the newer, stabler version of the original. I should have bought it, but I did not. Now I regret that.

Today I was sitting here on the couch, enjoying my tree, and watching that poor girl chase her geese. Lisl is much like Sisyphus who was condemned by the gods to forever push the boulder up the mountain only to have it fall down once he reaches the top and then having to do it all over and over again for all eternity. Liesel’s job, however, just doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as hopeless as that of Sisyphus, thank goodness, maybe it is due to her arrival each year at the holiday season!


2 responses to “Gänseliesel

  1. Cher prof qui a passé qqs temps à Strasbourg!!!
    Chez nous il y a une jolie statue de la Gaenseliesel au parc de l’Orangerie, à côté du Pavillon Joséphine….Je suis sûre que tu l’as déjà vue. Si tu vas sur Google, par ex., tu tapes:” statue de Gaenseliesel à Strasbourg”….et tu verras la photo de NOTRE gardienne d’oie alsacienne!
    à bientôt

    • Ma chère Alsacienne,
      Cela explique pourquoi l’orthographe que Mary Kay m’a montrée me semblait bizarre! Maintenant je me souviens d’une promenade tout près de cette statue à Strasbourg! Mon premier souvenir de cette Liesel a été en 1978 quand j’ai acheté la mienne. J’apprécie beaucoup ce message.

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