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Saxony, Germany, is All about Christmas

by Barbara Rogers

Dec 11, 2023

© Emicristea | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / Europe

Many of our favorite Christmas decorations, foods and even symbols began in Saxony, from fierce wooden nutcracker soldiers and candle arches to cherubic, painted angels; and fruit-filled stollen. Families traveling in southeast Germany will find reminders of this Christmas legacy whatever time of year they visit.

 

But in December, Christmas seems everywhere. The center of Dresden becomes one big Christkindlmarkt, every square lined by wooden cabins bursting with decorations, festive foods and gifts. Many of the most iconic decorations had their origins in the Ore Mountains, south of Dresden, where out-of-work miners perfected the art of woodcarving.

 

When the mines closed, miners turned their talents to carving wooden arches for displaying candles in windows and intricate twirling pyramid carousels, populated with tiny painted figures and propelled by the heat of candles. Fierce-looking nutcrackers began as caricatures of the feared mine foremen.

 

The traditional rosy-cheeked angels and choristers — those iconic wooden ornaments found in every Christmas market and shop throughout Germany and on Christmas trees throughout the world — originated here. The center of all this is Annaberg-Buchholz, where the contemporary Manufaktur der Träume museum exhibits the history of the region’s beautiful carved and painted Christmas decorations and wooden toys.

 

Nearby Seiffen is famed for wooden toys, and Christmas shops in the town center are filled with rows of tiny painted figures to decorate Christmas trees. Another museum in Seiffen displays a giant, 9-foot-tall wooden pyramid of painted Christmas figures.

 

An even larger carousel is the centerpiece of the Kristkindlmarkt in Annaberg-Buchholz; the highlight here is the miner’s parade on the fourth Advent Sunday (Dec. 22), bringing 1,000 people in traditional costumes and 300 miner musicians.

 

You’ll find Christmas markets wherever you go in December. Almost as big as Dresden’s markets are those filling the streets and squares of Leipzig, Saxony’s other major city. But during December, each of these large cities takes on the cozy feel of a smaller town, the air filled with sweet spicy fragrances, jingling bells and Christmas music.

 

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