Landeshauptstadt Dresden - 21.11.2019 13:32:58 Uhr 31.05.2020 02:35:07 Uhr

Timeline of the Striezelmarkt’s history

A brief chronicle of the market

Despite having undergone so many changes and taking place at so many different squares in the Saxon capital, the Dresden Striezelmarkt has still managed to retain its unique, distinct character. For local Dresdeners and any visitor to the city, it is today an extra special place, whose tradition is steeped in history:

Follow us through the history of the Dresden Striezelmarkt


Elector Frederick II of Saxony and his brother Duke Sigismund gave their approval for the city of Dresden to hold an open-air market at the present-day Altmarkt one day a week, including ‘the day before Christmas Eve’, ‘for communal benefit and in the best interests of our city of Dresden’. This temporary privilege initially related to an open-air meat market.

After the pre-Christmas fast, it was here that the citizens chose the meats they would be roasting for the festivities. As the market was a success, it was retained, and extended to include other items.


Accounts from the Bartholomai-, Materni- und Brückenhofhospital show Striezel or Stollen as donations from the city council to the poor and infirm: ‘One loaf of white bread to the poor at Christmas’, ‘one Christbrot for the infirm’, ‘one Christstrüzel’, ‘one Stroczel for each nurse’ etc.


The city council loaned (for a fee) strutzelbreter (boards placed on handcarts), which could be used to sell the Striezel or Christwecken. In 1496, accounts at the council finance department recorded ‘6 gr., 6 pf. for breten for the Christmas cristbroten’ as income from the board hire.


The market was named ‘Striezelmontag’, because it washeld on the Monday before Christmas. For Dresden housewives, it provided a welcome opportunity to buy one of the festive Striezel displayed on strutzelbreter’. The boards were placed on struzelwahen or carts, serving as stalls of sorts. The great popularity saw the market later extended from the Monday before Christmas to Christmas Eve.


Council documents note that, based on an old custom, the governing mayor treated the councillors ‘in dy strucel zcu laden’, in other words, to a Stollen at the city’s expense. Until the early 17th century, every councillor would receive two Striezel at Christmas (as well as one Westphalian ham at Easter). In 1617, a decision was made to replace both gifts with one Reichsthaler each, though the item name still prevailed as ‘ham and Striezel money’.


Increasing complaints from local tradespeople and craftsmen about the competition from foreign traders. But the city council deemed it more beneficial to encourage ‘Commercia’ and not turn the foreigners away. The influx of traders from many Saxon townships increased the market’s diversity.


Augustus II the Strong confirmed the conferral of ‘Possessrechte’ or staple rights to Saxon traders and craftspeople.


The city’s orphanage ran ‘Strumpfbuden’ (little hosiery mills) at the Striezelmarkt, selling dolls and other lathe-turned products. The woodwork traders and rural merchants or Schachtelleute, as they were colloquially known, began selling painted toys, which they had bought as wholesalers from the families of local workers in the Ore Mountains.


Market purchaser lists reveal the wide range on offer: 6 potters, 8 gingerbread bakers, 3 goldsmiths, 2 glass traders, 3 cutlers, 20 lace merchants, 11 lathe turners, 10 passementiers, 1 hosier, 21 merchants, 1 scythe smith, 9 traders with wooden barrels, and 8 tinsmiths


In addition to the Dresden Striezelmarkt, Germany’s other most famous festive markets at the time included the Nuremberg Christkindelmarkt, the Berlin Christmas Market, and the Frankfurt Christkindschesmarkt.


In his wood etching Ausverkauf wegen Geschäftsaufgabe (‘Closing-down clearance sale’), painter Ludwig Richter paid tribute to the children who used to sell ‘Feuerrüpel’ chimney-sweep figures made from prunes. Also known as Pflaumentoffel (‘plum devils’), these little figures later became a symbol of the Dresden Striezelmarkt.


Children were banned from selling things at the Striezelmarkt.


A ‘nostalgic Striezelmarkt’ selling Saxon products just like in the olden days was held at the Stallhof, between the Georgentor and Johanneum. 

Locations have alternated throughout the market’s history: Altmarkt, Neumarkt, Hauptstrasse, Postplatz, Johanngeorgenallee, Antonsplatz, Stallhof, Stadthalle, Theaterplatz, Weisse Gasse, Fucikplatz (now Strassburger Platz), Ferdinandplatz and now Altmarkt again.