written by Anette Deler

“Oh es riecht gut, oh es riecht fein.”  During Christmas season, in most German cities the air smells of mulled spices, hot apple cider, roasted chestnuts, and gingerbread cookies. While most people bundle up and stay warm inside during the winter months, German cities are getting busy with Kristkindl Markets.  One of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany is the “Dresdner Striezelmarkt.”  In 1434 Friedrich II gave permission for a one-day meat market for the privileged Electorate of Saxony. The market, however, became so successful that privileges were extended to sell other goods.  Today, many visitors are drawn to the Striezelmarkt.

Most notably, each year the Christmas market culminates in the biggest traditional event of all: the Stollenfest. On this occasion, a four- ton Christstollen made out of yeast, raisins and powdered sugar frostings will be sold in portions to the people. While listening to Christmas music and carols, most people enjoy drinking the famous Gluehwein.  The hot mulled wine with its spicy aroma and alcoholic content will warm up any visitors when walking through the market in freezing temperatures.  

In addition to food and drinks, local vendors compete to sell their goods.  Traditional hand painted wood-carvings from the nearby Ore Mountains are offered to visitors, including nutcrackers, pipe-smoking Rauchermaennchen, wooden toys, and the famous Schwibbogen.  Decorated with characters from German fairytales, the market place offers children a variety of entertainment.  Children can listen to famous German fairytales from the Brothers Grimm during “Maerchenstunde.”  

The puppet theater is one of the highlights for children.  Each night children can witness when a door will be opened on the oversized Adventskalendar.  The Adventskalendar is named after the season Advent, which is the time right before Christmas.  Behind each door of the calendar there is a surprise ranging from Christmas pictures or sweets.  The largest Christmas pyramid in the world at a record height of 14 meters is the focal point of the Dresdner Striezelmarkt.  The wooden handmade pyramid is a carousel of several levels adorned with figures depicting Christmas motifs.  

Growing up near the city of Dresden, many of my childhood memories are connected with the Dresdner Striezelmarkt.  There was no Christmas season my mother would not take us to the market.  Riding carousel, listening to Christmas music, waiting for Santa Claus are only few events enriching my life growing up in Germany.  The Dresdner Striezelmarkt will always have a special place in my heart.

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