Striezelmarkt (Dresden Christmas Market)

Striezelmarkt (Dresden Christmas Market)
Photo: weihnachtsmarktdresden.com
The Dresden Christmas Market, commonly known as the Striezelmarkt, is one of the oldest documented Christmas markets in Germany and probably in the entire Europe, it is more than 500 years old. The market takes place in the city’s Old Market Place (Altmarkt). It opens in late November and lasts throughout the Advent season until Christmas eve.

The first mention of the Striezelmarkt dates back to 1434. Back then, it was a one-day market held on the Monday before Christmas to provide Dresden’s citizens with meat for the festive meal. Over the centuries, it has grown to become one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe. Its name comes from the world Striezel, which is the name of a Christmas cake now known as Stollen.

During the market, the Altmarkt Square is dominated by a tall Christmas tree brought from the nearby Tharandt woods. Other famous features of the Striezelmarkt include the world’s largest usable Christmas arch and the 14-meter wooden Christmas pyramid. The pyramid has been installed at the market since the early 19th century.

Among the most popular products sold at the market are carved wooden ornaments and Christmas decorations called Moravian stars (known as Hernnhuter stars in Germany). Other traditional souvenirs that can be found in the Striezelmarkt include nutcracker dolls and Räuchermänner. Nutcrackers in read soldier coats are believed to have been inspired by Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker” based on Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”. A Räuchermann is a statuette depicting a smoking man.

As far as Christmas treats are concerned, the Striezelmarkt offers a variety of specialties originating from Dresden. The most famous Christmas specialty is Stollen after which the market was named (the original name of Dresden Stollen is Strietzel or Strüzel). Stollen is a moist, heavy Christmas bread containing dried or/and candied fruit, nuts and spices, and often covered with confectioner’s sugar. The “official” Dresden Stollen is produced by only 150 bakers.

Every year, the traditional Stollen festival (Stollenfest) is held during the market to celebrate this local delicacy. Local bakers make a giant Stollen, and the ceremonial first slice of the Stollen is cut on the second Sunday of Advent by the Stollenmädchen (“Stollen girl”). The ceremonial cutting of the Stollen is followed by a procession through the city’s old town. The giant Stollen is cut into slices sold to market guests, and all the proceeds are donated to charity.

Alongside Stollen, you can taste other Christmas treats such as Pfefferkuchen (German gingerbread), Christmas cookies, baked apples, glazed fruit, roasted nuts, famous German sausages served with potato salad or sauerkraut, and more. One of the most beloved traditions of the Striezelmarkt is drinking spicy mulled wine (Glühwein) with cinnamon and cloves from specially decorated mugs.

The Dresden Christmas market offers plenty of attractions for visitors of all ages, but it puts a special focus on attractions for children. The market hosts a children’s adventure world which features art and craft workshops, fairground rides, a puppet theater, a children’s railway, Santa’s house, and more.

Striezelmarkt

Photo: dresden.de, © Michael Schmidt



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