Home German Holidays and Festivals Advent Season in Germany What is a Bunter Teller? A Plate of Christmas Cookies for Everyone!
What is a Bunter Teller? A Plate of Christmas Cookies for Everyone!

What is a Bunter Teller? A Plate of Christmas Cookies for Everyone!

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what is a bunte teller




what is a bunter tellerLast week a friend of mine said, “You’re German, would you like these? I found them at an estate sale”… and then she handed me these cardboard plate/bowls printed with Christmassy images. She had found paper plates for “Bunte Teller!” I was so excited to receive something from my childhood. But, What is a Bunter Teller? you ask… let me share a wonderful little tradition with you…

All photos take by Karen Lodder

What is a Bunter Teller?

Bunter Teller translates as “colorful Plate”… but it’s much more than that. It is a plate of colorful goodies like cookies, fruit, candy and chocolates that is given at Christmas. When I was a child, we didn’t get loads of gifts, but there was always a plate under the tree… a special cardboard plate decorated with pretty Christmas images… loaded up with our favorite cookies and other special treats. My plate always had a bar of Nougat on it (my favorite)… my sister got Marzipan (her favorite). These were ours to eat, and not have to share. My mother also set out a BIG Bunter Teller on the table LOADED with cookies, candies and other treats… and spent the whole season replenishing it daily. Domino Steine, Spekulatius, Lebkuchen, Chocolate Glocken, Eiskonfekt, and MORE.

After the season, my mom would clean up the paper plates (they were covered with a coating) and put them away for next year.

what is a bunter teller

Where does the tradition of the Bunter Teller come from?

what is a bunte tellerThe Bunter Teller is mentioned in a song from the 19th century, “Lasst Uns Froh und Munter Sein” (see below for lyrics in German and English, as well as a video). While we associate putting out Shoes for St. Nicholas, somewhere along the line, a plate was added to collect goodies.

But when?

One theory goes like this…

Originally, Christmas trees were decorated with nuts, fruits and cookies. Kids loved that they could help themselves to these special seasonal treats… and then glass ornaments and lametta started showing up on trees. More and more families began using them, and the treats were crowded off the tree in favor of these beautiful and re-usable decorations. But the kids still wanted treats (glass balls are beautiful, but you can’t eat them) … so a plate was set by the tree, loaded with the cookies that used to hang from it. In a sense, the treats moved from shoes to tree to plate… Today kids get treats in shoes on Nicholas Tag, and on plates for Christmas.

German Paper Cookie Plates

what is a bunter teller
These vintage paper plates are definitely German

The cookies and treats on the plate are special, but the plates themselves have a story too. Paper plates were invented around 150 years ago by a retired museum director, who was also a master Bookbinder, in the Brandenburg town of Luckenwalde. He had read an article about how unhygienic it was to put food on old newspapers, so he did some experimenting with pulp made from sawdust. In 1867 he got his first patent, and before you know it, paper plates were in use. Picture plates came soon after this, and by the 1880s, special Christmas plates for Christmas confections were being offered. Colorful plates with pictures of Children playing, the Weinachtsmann, and the Bethlehem stable. What’s interesting is that the pictures in the advertisements for the plates held mostly cookies and sweets instead of the traditional fruit and nuts. People loved the look… and started filling their plates with more calorie bomb sweets and fewer apples, oranges, dates and almonds.

Today, it wouldn’t be Christmas in a German Household without a Bunter Teller on the table, filled with all of your favorites. Whether you use the vintage paper plates, or you use regular serving plates, it is certain to become a favorite tradition in your home too.

Bunte Teller for New Year

Another time to have Bunte Teller is New Years Eve. The bounty of sweets on the plate represents the best of the past year, and is a hope for a plentiful New Year!

Make your Own Bunte Teller

Super EASY! Take a plate… LOAD it up with cookies, chocolates, chocolate Santas,  nuts and even some dried fruits or Tangerines… and put it out for Christmas! You can even give everyone in the family their own!

Where to buy German Bunte Teller

Vintage Paper Bunte Teller Plates

Find them on Etsy

Vintage Colorful Cardboard Christmas Xmas Holiday Cookie PlateVintage Colorful Cardboard Christmas Xmas Holiday Cookie PlateChristmas card cardboard Christmas plateChristmas card cardboard Christmas plateVintage German Christmas Tray or PlateVintage German Christmas Tray or PlateVintage 1950's Christmas Thick Pressed Cardboard Bowl - Made In GermanyVintage 1950’s Christmas Thick Pressed Cardboard Bowl – Made In GermanyVintage Christmas Santa Cardboard Bowl, 1950's Christmas,Hallmark Paper Plate Made in GermanyVintage Christmas Santa Cardboard Bowl, 1950’s Christmas,Hallmark Paper Plate Made in GermanyVintage Pressed Paper Plate, Cardboard Christmas Bowl, 1950's Christmas, Paper Cookie Plate with Manger, made in Germany,Vintage Pressed Paper Plate, Cardboard Christmas Bowl, 1950’s Christmas, Paper Cookie Plate with Manger, made in Germany,Christmas plate cardboard Colorful plate Christmas Santa Claus 50s 60s 50s 60s-Christmas plate cardboard Colorful plate Christmas Santa Claus 50s 60s 50s 60s-Vintage Cardboard and Plastic Cookie PlatesVintage Cardboard and Plastic Cookie Plates

Beautiful Tin Plates for Bunte Teller

70s Plate Plätzchenteller70s Plate PlätzchentellerVIntage Bunter TellerVIntage Bunter Teller

German Bunte Teller

VILLEROY & BOCH TOY'S FANTASY Large bowl - deer with santaVILLEROY & BOCH TOY’S FANTASY Large bowl – deer with santaVilleroy & Boch Toy's Delight Salad Plate RedVilleroy & Boch Toy’s Delight Salad Plate RedVilleroy & Boch Toy's Fantasy 9-1/2-Inch Large Bowl - Santa's GiftsVilleroy & Boch Toy’s Fantasy 9-1/2-Inch Large Bowl – Santa’s Gifts

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Lasst Uns Froh und Munter Sein

Lasst Uns Froh Und Munter Sein
Lasst uns froh und munter sein,
und uns recht von Herzen freu’n!
Lustig, lustig, traleralera!
Bald ist Nikolaus Abend da, bald ist Nikolaus Abend da!

Dann stell ich den Teller auf,
Nik’laus legt gewiss was drauf.
Lustig, lustig, traleralera!
Bald ist Nikolaus Abend da, bald ist Nikolaus Abend da!

Wenn ich schlaf, dann träume ich,
jetzt bringt Nik’laus was für mich.
Lustig, lustig, traleralera!
Bald ist Nikolaus Abend da, bald ist Nikolaus Abend da!

Wenn ich aufgestanden bin,
lauf ich schnell zu dem Teller hin.
Lustig, lustig, traleralera!
Bald ist Nikolaus Abend da, bald ist Nikolaus Abend da!


Let Us Be Happy and Cheerful
Let us be happy and cheerful,
And rejoice in our hearts!
Fun, fun, traleralera!
Soon Nicholas’s evening is here, soon Nicholas’ s evening is here!

Then I set the plate out,
Nik’laus certainly puts something on it.
Fun, fun, traleralera!
Soon Nicholas ‘s evening is here, soon Nicholas’ s evening is here!

When I sleep, I dream,
Now Nik’laus brings something for me.
Fun, fun, traleralera!
Soon Nicholas ‘s evening is here, soon Nicholas’ s evening is here!

When I get up,
I run quickly to the plate.
Fun, fun, traleralera!
Soon Nicholas ‘s evening is here, soon Nicholas’ s evening is here!

Here is the Sing-Along version (note, they’ve added an extra verse)

Shop Christmas Gifts for the Family
what is a bunter teller

Comment(8)

  1. Thank you for this article! i started pinning some ‘Bunte Teller’ I have for sale, and wanted to show people how they are traditionally used. Your article did that – and so much more! Re-pinned…
    Frohe Weihnachten, Claudia
    (another German in America)

  2. We still share our “bunte Teller” on Christmas. I even make some for my american family members.
    My kids would be disappointed if there were none. And they are grown ups now.
    Another german in Ami-land. lol

  3. Danke fuer die Erinnerungen… I just wrote a blog post about Christmas memories and the Bunter Teller was one of them so I linked to your post. My grandfather’s birthday was on Nikolaus so we always sang that song!

  4. Hello! I’ve just come upon your website and am thoroughly enjoying seeing so many things from long ago when I was a child growing up in my Bavarian grandmother’s home. Could you possibly help me? I am trying to find the right name (and spelling) for a filled raspberry hard German candy my grandmother had in our candy dish every Christmas. When she said their name, it sounded like she was say “Himburrs.” They looked like a raspberry, had a thin hard candy outside shell and delicious raspberry jelly inside. They were one of my favorite candies when I was a child. I’ve found some that look similar on the internet, but they are not made in Germany and the German name is not listed. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. I think you are remembering Himbeer bonons…. like these–>http://amzn.to/2DPaRZt

      or are they these–>http://amzn.to/2Fn0I3z

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