Speiser-Merz Christmas Cookies

** All photos from the collection of Catherine Reuther **

We have a long tradition of making Christmas cookies in the Speiser-Merz family. Babette (Habann) Speiser (1858-1947) is the earliest person I know of who made the cookies. She most likely learned to make them from her mother Anna Barbara "Babette" (Merz) Straub (1833-1895).

My favorite is Springerle. Springerle are an anise-flavored cookie made using wooden Springerle molds. Below you will see a picture of Babette Habann Speiser making Springerle in 1936. The newspaper caption said her molds were almost 100 years old, leading me to believe the Merz family tradition of making Springerle goes back several generations.

Springerle cookies date back centuries in Bavaria and Austria. For me, the tradition of making the family recipes starts with Babette Habann Speiser to her daughter & my grandmother Lydia (Speiser) Reuther, to my father Calvin Reuther, to me Catherine Reuther. Others have continued the tradition, including cousin Henry Broch (1906-1983).

After Lydia retired from cookie making, Cal took it up, often with my assistance. After Cal died in 2000, I started making them on my own in 2002. While Dad and I often talked about taking a picture of Lydia, he, and I making Springerle, and then after she died in 1996, of he and I, we just never got to it.

Here is a picture of Babette making Springerle in 1936, a few pictures of Lydia and Calvin, and then me making Springerle in 2004.

journal Babette (Habann) Speiser in 1936.

journal Calvin Reuther and mother Lydia (Speiser) Reuther in Fairfield, in the 1970s(?).

journal Trimming the dough off the mold.

journal Cutting apart the cookies.