Landeshauptstadt Dresden - 21.11.2019 13:33:29 Uhr 31.05.2020 02:12:51 Uhr

Christmas symbols and figures

Symbols and typical figures

Every year, market-goers of all ages continue to be captivated by the Christmassy magic of Dresden’s Striezelmarkt. Despite having undergone a number of changes and moved around to different squares across the city, the Striezelmarkt has still managed to retain its unique character.

In addition to Santa, illuminated fir trees, Christmas pyramids and Advent calendars, this undisputedly also includes the Pflaumentoffel. To this day, the little man made from prunes still smiles at us from the market stalls – after all, everyone likes a lucky charm.

Dresdner Pflaumentoffel

The Dresdner Pflaumentoffel is modelled on the little, often only seven-year-old, chimney-sweep boys with their cloaks and ladders, and who, with their brooms, had to climb into chimneys and clean them from the inside.

Later, when chimneys were instead cleaned by brooms lowered from the top, and the apprentice chimney sweeps had to be at least 18 years old, the Pflaumentoffel also changed. The broom was dispensed with, the black cloak was replaced with a golden ‘ruff’, and a top hat was added. He still looks like this today.

The first ever notice about the ‘little prune man’ was published in Christmas 1801. Many poor families would often make Pflaumentoffel at home out of mere necessity, and the children would then have to sell them among the stalls, in all weathers, in the dark, damp and cold.

The child merchants started being denounced in 1850, were increasingly restricted, and ultimately definitively banned in 1910. Today, Pflaumentoffel are made commercially in serial production and sold as ‘Original Dresdner Pflaumentoffel’ and as lucky charms.

Information in Sign language


The Striezelkinder were created by Max Schanz in the early 1930s. The long-time director of the Seiffener Fachschule für Holzspielzeug und Holzgestaltung (a college for wood design and wooden toys in the town of Seiffen) designed the symbolic figures of the Dresden Striezelmarkt based on an 1853 wood etching by Ludwig Richter: The picture of the two children standing by a table bearing a few Pflaumentoffel and a sign saying ‘Closing-down clearance sale’.

The Striezelkinder were awarded a gold medal at the 1937 World Fair in Paris. During Advent and Christmas, they also adorn Dresden’s churches, streets and homes.

Information in Sign language

Original Herrnhut Advent and Christmas stars

These were being made in schools run by the Moravian Church in Lusatia as early as the mid-19th century. But it was not until the early 20th century that series manufacturing began, and this Christmas custom became widespread. The stars continue to be made by hand to this day. Many Striezelmarkt guests also like to buy one of these stars as a memento.

Ein Striezelmarkt-Stand verkauft Herrnhuter Sterne