This story is part of the Tenement Museum Collection.
Many of today’s typical Christmas customs come from German immigrants, from the Christmas tree and Santa Claus, to holiday markets and the timeless carol, “Silent Night.” The Schneiders, the couple who ran the saloon at 97 Orchard between 1864 and 1886, likely enjoyed all these customs and more, as beer saloons were integral to the celebrations of Little Germany. John and Caroline would have filled their home and business with their friends and neighbors, catchy carols, a Christmas tree, and delicious Christmas sweets. John’s home region of Franconia is famous for its Lebkuchen. Also called Pfefferkuchen, this cookie is similar to gingerbread, with a sweet, nutty taste to be enjoyed with coffee. Lebkuchen is often associated with Christmas, but Caroline might have served it anytime for her customers, to be included in their free lunch. Those taking the Tenement Museum's “Shop Life” tour might spy a tray of Lebkuchen in Caroline’s kitchen! To read more about German immigrant holiday traditions, click here!