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Visit the Spielzeug Welten Museum

Recommendation: Visit the Spielzeug Welten Museum 

Contributed by Stephanie Roffler (former BCT Co-Chair)

I was excited to visit the Toy Museum in Basel. One, because it’s almost Christmas. Second, it would be the first time my kids and I would see it.

The Spielzeug Welten Museum has several exciting exhibitions on offer. They include a “HO HO HO – From Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus” Christmas Exhibition. Also, a special exhibit entitled Moving World – Steiff Surprises and Fascinates. 

Visit the toy museum Basel

The Christmas Show

The presentation focuses on the origin and transformation of Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus. This process took around 1500 years. 

I learnt a few interesting points, which included the following:

The tradition emerged from the bishops Nicholas of Myra and Nicholas of Sion from the 4th and 6th centuries. Nicholas visited wealthy families and kept a record of the children’s deeds in his golden book. He rewarded them according to their behaviours. This practice is similar to the Swiss concept of Samichlaus, which occurs annually on 6 DecemberThe bishops became Saints and lived in what is now Turkey

Many versions of the gift giver subsequently materialised.

For instance, with the Reformation and Martin Luther’s teachings, the gift-giver changed to Christ Child.

Other variations with different names and impressions also emerged. For example, Weihnachtsmann“, “Struwwelpeter“, and “Mr Winter”. And “Sinterklaas” and “Santa Claus”. In the 1930s, Coca-Cola popularised a particular image of Santa Claus through its advertisements. 

The “HO HO HO” Christmas exhibition is running until 13 February 2022. Persons bearing names similar to Nicholas (like Nikola, Niels, Nicole, Klaas, etc.) can obtain a free ticket if they show up on the second Sunday of each month.

You can visit the Museum’s website for all the details. 

The Spielzeug Welten Museum
The Steiff Display 

I was impressed, and my toddler, who loves bears, was enchanted by the Toy Museum’s Special Exhibition: Moving World – Steiff Surprises and Fascinates

There is an extensive collection of old teddy bears on display (more than 2500 items). The stuffed toys originate from the leading toy manufacturer Margarete Steiff GmbH. If you’re not aware, Margarete Steiff (1847–1909) was a disabled seamstress who created the first plush toy and founded the family company bearing her name. The family went on to make the first-ever teddy bear.  

The Moving World display will go on until October 2022. You can read more about the exhibition, the teddy bear history, and the Steif family here and here.

The Spielzeug Welten Museum




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