The term “putz” was derived from the German verb putzen, which means “to clean” or “to decorate.” Originally, putz was a Moravian tradition that started about a century and a half ago when families created nativity scenes from organic materials as an annual holiday activity. By the twentieth century, putz creations had become secular, larger and more elaborate, and instead of nativity scenes, there were farms, villages, and toy trains. After World War II, Japanese companies started to mass produce cardboard structures with sparkly snow and colored cellophane windows that glowed when a C6 light bulb was inserted through a hole in the back. Nowadays, you see ceramic or plastic Christmas villages everywhere, but to me, these lack the putz charm of yore.
Thank goodness, the old hand-crafted paper and often crude putz structures from last century have been rediscovered and are being reproduced today. The two houses that I purchased were handmade here in the States. To see my second sparkly house, click on the link below.