“My brother, little sister and I decorate the tree together, and every year we fight over who gets to hang our handmade childhood decorations.”
— Carly Rae Jepsen
Day 17 in the 2022 Christmas Calendar series and with that, a pair of surprises for you. The first one is in connection with the Gingerbread Quiz presented in Day 10. The answers plus some useful sources are provided in the link. The second one is in connection with a town in Germany that has produced gingerbread products since the 16th century and still has this tradition to this day. Enjoy the two and in case you haven’t tried the gingerbread quiz, the link is enclosed as well.
Before we stopped for a couple days at the Christmas Market in Bautzen, we took a quick stop at a small town in Pulsnitz. The town, with a population of 7400 inhabitants, was first mentioned in 1225 in the history books. It was a typical small town in the Lusatia region of Saxony, with a market square flanked with a church on one side and streets that are lined with houses but with few blocks. However, Pulsnitz has one gem that makes it a popular attraction: it’s the home of the gingerbread.
In 1558, a decree was created where the local bakeries were allowed to make gingerbread and sell it to the markets. In 1654, the Pulsnitz gingerbread made its debut in the Dresden Striezelmarkt, the city’s main Christmas market. Since then, the Pulsnitz gingerbread has become one of the columns of Dresden’s Christmas market. The gingerbread became part of the industrial expansion that started in 1869 and thanks to being connected to the railroad between Dresden and Kamenz, the gingerbread became a popular good for Germany and the rest of Europe. Pulsnitz was spared the destruction in World War II, but was altered considerably during the time of East Germany, and today’s architecture feature a diluted taste of past and original, something that will be mentioned later on in the article.
Gingerbread Works at Feldstrasse 15
The gingerbread was one of a few industries that was privately owned during that time. After German reunification, the federal government passed a law encouraging artisians and craftsmen to open their businesses and provide resources needed to continue to develop. The gingerbread house in Pulsnitz at Feldstrasse 15 has been in private hands since 1990 and is still producing hundreds of thousands of packages of its traditional gingerbread annually. There’s a shop available on the grounds that opens daily. There, one can buy gingerbread with different flavors as well as those with unique designs. If you are looking for a unique gingerbread for your loved one, friend or even a colleague, this is the place to go.
There are nine different gingerbread stores that sell gingerbread products that are made based on the family recipe. All of them are over a century old and with the exception of one, they offer a place to sit down and enjoy a good traditional coffee and cookies. The oldest one at E.C. Groschky is almost 200 years old, having been established in 1825. The Gingerbread Factory at Feldstrasse 15 is one of the largest in the town, but one sitting in a building dating back to the East German times- something where a renovation of its façade into a gingerbread house would be something to considered. The youngest is Max Schäfer’s and was established in 1924.
Lebkuchenmuseum (Gingerbread Museum)
The historic town square is the platform of the traditional Lebkuchenmarkt (Gingerbread Festival). Every year during the first weekend of November, the market is loaded with booths providing different types of gingerbread (cookies), Spekulatius cookies and other pastries, attracting thousands of tourists who sink their teeth into the sweet product. This year’s market opened after a two-year absence because of Covid-19. At the market square is a museum that is devoted to hundreds of years of tradition in making the gingerbread. At a small fee, one can see how the gingerbread is made, with displays of the process from collecting the honey and spices to putting them through the many machines that are on display. Furthermore, one can see a wide selection of hundreds of gingerbread cans, most of it came from the collection of Manfred Liere, a man from Nuremberg who had collected over 3000 of the cans and donated them to the museum in Pulsnitz prior to his death in 2018. A tour guide is available upon request.
Our impression of Pulsnitz was a bit mixed on our visit. On one hand, the town has kept its tradition of making gingerbread products and has seen some visitors at both the museum and the gingerbread works. We visited the factory at Feldstrasse 15 and was amazed at the wide selection of gingerbread the store had to offer. Wishful thinking would have been had the company itself invested some time to turning its factory building into a gingerbread house and expanded to include more parking possibilities and tours. In fact a city tour of the gingerbread shops in Pulsnitz including the museum, plus some activities for the younger audience would have made the stay an experience of a lifetime.
When we think of gingerbread, the first city that comes to mind is Nuremberg. After all, most of them are of the opinion that Christmas in Germany originates from that city, as well as Bavaria. Over the years, especially since the Fall of the Berlin Wall, we’re starting to see more of the truth than meets the eye. We know that the birthplace of the Christmas market is Bautzen and not Rothenburg and as for the gingerbread man, Pulsnitz played a key role in the creation and production of this pastry, and still does so today. Sometimes the smallest towns have the biggest surprises that we never knew about. Pulsnitz was one that belongs in that category. And the day trip was well worth it, especially given its proximity along the motorway between Dresden and Bautzen, two of the best places for Christmas markets.
More Pictures of the Pulsnitz trip can be found here.