A White German Christmas in Dresden

Posted on January 7, 2010 by

This Christmas, we reveled tradition, the German style. We left sunny Spain behind and headed North to spend the festive season with our dear friend Heiko in his village near Dresden, East Germany. Frozen lakes, withered trees and white powdery snow blanketing the rolling hills: it was just what we needed to get into the Christmas mood. After spending most of the year traveling through tropical countries, bumming on beaches and climbing hot volcanoes, this was actually somewhat different. A perfect setting for Christmas. 

We arrived at Heiko’s home in the village of Langenwolmsdorf (1hr from Dresden) amidst the heavy snow, only to wake up the next day to a view of white-coated surroundings.


Waking up to the sun shining on our faces, and a huge spread of breakfast before us – salami, pate, cheese and nutella, we just couldn’t stop smiling. Heiko lives in a gorgeous townhouse, with part of it used as a Ferienwohnung, a B&B run by his own family. It’s got a gorgeous view, with the highly underrated but stunning National Park Sashcon Sweiz just 10 minutes away.


German Christmas Traditions

The days before Christmas were spent tasting typical Christmas delights, knocking on Heiko’s family doors and visiting the Christmas market. It was very exciting to be part of their celebrations, especially getting the chance to experience their traditions and practices.

Flaming up Glühwein

Glühwein – mulled wine boiled with cloves and sugar then dripped with rum – is definitely their favorite winter drink, especially at Christmas. One of their typical Christmas practices involves boiling  a huge tub of mulled wine at home, placing a gigantic cone of sugar on top and then drenching it completely with rum before setting it on fire. Oh switch off the lights for the best effect. The result: gorgeous blue flames dancing in the darkness.


Christmas Cake: Stollen

The German Stollen is a loaf-shaped fruitcake littered with nuts, raisins, candied citrus peel, spices, and dusted with icing sugar. During the days leading up to Christmas, the Germans love to have it for tea break. The form of the stollen is said to represent Baby Jesus in swaddling clothes. Dresden has the most famous Christmas stollen, as the first was made here. Here’s a recipe to make a simple German stollen.


Decorating with Traditional Handicraft

tn_IMG_0476 Traditional German handicrafts are especially popular during Christmas, as the Germans light up their homes with intricately carved wooden crafts.

From nutcrackers, wooden smokers, wooden figures, straw ornaments to candle-lit pyramids, you’ll find them at every Christmas market.

We headed to the village’s famous handicraft store Ratags that had thousands of hand-crafted art pieces on display and even artists’ workshop where you could try your hand at crafting.



Visiting the Christmas Market

Germany’s Christmas markets are some of the best in the world, sprawling over city squares, with brightly lit giant Christmas trees and ferris wheels. We headed out to Dresden city’s Christmas market, the oldest in the whole of Germany. Rows and rows of stalls selling mulled wine and bratwurst (German sausages), handicraft and candy – you could spend hours lost in the labyrinth. Whether you’re looking for exquisite Welsh Gold or hand-made trinkets, you’re sure to find perfect Christmas gifts here in the market.




It’s the best place to make your child’s Christmas dreams come true, I couldn’t imagine any kid not screaming with excitement here.



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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

20 Responses to “A White German Christmas in Dresden”

  1. Adam Axon January 6, 2010 11:59 pm #

    Sounds like you had an awesome Christmas! I went to Manchester's European inspired Christmas markets and it was great, but I'm sure it's not a patch on a traditional German one! Maybe next year :-)

  2. Travel Blogs January 7, 2010 10:52 am #

    Looks very tasty too! We went to Rome, Food was amazing but no white christmas:(

  3. ugg January 8, 2010 7:59 am #

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  4. Lori January 8, 2010 4:57 pm #

    Wow – the images are amazing – and from the story I think you had a great end of an year. So… let's say again Happy new year and I wish you to succeed in all things you have in mind!

  5. Fly Girl January 8, 2010 11:19 pm #

    Those are lovely pix! We're covered with a little more of the powdery stuff in Chicago but it doesn't look quite as charming. We also have a noted German Christmas market, I've tries all of the quaint Christmas traditions except for the Gluhwein. I've been dying to try it, it looks so dramatic.

  6. Heiko March 1, 2010 7:04 pm #

    very cool the article. And nice memories coming up… Was awesome to spend Christmas with you!!!
    Don’t you miss the swon? Now it’s almost all gone, the longest and coldest winter this year we had for a long time.
    Take care.

  7. Ariel June 10, 2010 9:22 am #

    Oh how I love a white Christmas. Unfortunately I have missed white for three years in a row. Maybe this year I can stay home in my beloved UK and sample some of the German cakes leading up to a traditional Mum Christmas meal.

  8. Lucy June 22, 2010 2:32 am #

    We often pretend to have a white Christmas, regardless of where we are. There is nothing better than the wonderful hot roasts, and all the trimmings that only the UK does well.

  9. Andrew December 14, 2010 3:16 am #

    That burning Glühwein with rum and sugarcone is called Feuerzangenbowle.

    • Nellie December 15, 2010 1:34 pm #

      Oh thanks for the correction! I should have asked my friend for the right name. He had so much fun lighting it up – I can imagine every Christmas must be a ball for the Germans!

  10. Abi December 18, 2010 10:55 pm #

    I love stollen cake – and all the snow and lights. Looks like my ideal place for Christmas…

  11. John Christmas June 9, 2011 9:57 am #

    Seems like you had an amazing Christmas! Nothing like the magics of a White Christmas to put you in the Christmassy mood and if that wasn’t, I’ll bet the Christmas market had more than enough for everyone to soak up the festivities. Just looking at those Christmas lighting's is enough to swoon me over.

  12. Alex Meldrum August 9, 2011 11:29 am #

    Merry Christmas! That’s exactly how I felt looking at the photos you took of your Christmas getaway. I am curious, do Germans place Christmas trees in their homes? Just a random thought, thanks for sharing your experience! I enjoyed reading it and looking at the beautiful photos! Can’t wait for Christmas!


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