Dresden Stollen Festival
The History of the Dresden Stollen Festival
The history of the Stollen Festival dates back to the beginning of the 18th century. In 1730, Friedrich August I., better known as August the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland arranged a legendary amusement festivity in the framework of a camp known as Zeithainer Lustlager (or Zeithainer Lager). Even today, it is still the epitome of the baroque way of life because of its luxury and splendour. This festivity is the historical model for todays Stollen Festivals.
The Zeithainer Lustlager or Lustlager of Zeihain took place from the 31st of May to the 28th of June in 1730. It was hold on an area of about 1,000 hectares near the cities Riesa and Großenhain between the villages Zeithain, Glaubitz und Streumen not far from the border between Saxony and Brandenburg. Actually, the purpose of the camp was not the presentation of royal splendour but rather the demonstration of the military power of the Saxon army as well as the managerial skills of the generals and officers. It was the biggest military review of Europe. Guests from many European principalities were invited. The most wellknown guest of the maneuver was Friedrich Wilhelm I., King of Prussia. August the Strong wanted to gain Friedrich Wilhelm as an ally for his territorial claims against the Habsburger Donaumonarchie by demonstrating his military power. The complete Saxon army - about 30,000 men in 30 battalions infantry and 50 squadrons cavalry - was assembled. One fact that contributed to the historical importance of the event was a fierce quarrel between Friedrich Wilhelm I. and his son Friedrich the Great who left the camp in Zeithain hastily as a consequence.
The Zeithainer Lustlager was an organizational masterstroke which caused a sensation all over Europe. As to whether or not August managed to present himself as a great commander-in-chief is not clear. But in fact, the Zeithainer Lustlager went down as the most tremendous baroque festivity of its time. After the military exercises, on the 23rd of June in 1730, the Italian singers and French actors dominated the scene. Decorated boats were cruising on the river Elbe, fireworks lasting for five hours illuminated the river and the city Riesa. Comedies and operas were performed. The 47 princes and dukes, 69 counts, 38 barons and, of course, Friedrich Wilhelm I. and 150 Prussian officeres were offered cultural and culinary titbits. Free beer was offered, 160 oxen und countless deers and pheasants were roasted.
The highlight of the festivity was an enormous Stollen, 1.8 tons in weight, 18 cubits in length, and 8 cubits in width, which had been produced by master baker Zacharias and 60 "basin knights". A wagon pulled by eight horses had carried the huge cake from the bakery Mühlberg into the camp. There, a carpenter cut the Stollen with the famous Grand Stollen Knife, and the pieces were given to the guests of the Saxon court. Of course, the first Giant Stollen of world-history has nothing to do anymore with the one of present times. The processing and ingredients differ significantly from that of the past. The stollen of 1730 was more of a white bread than the cake as we know it today. Nevertheless, it had become the model for the Dresden Giant Stollen, which has been the main attraction of the Stollen Festival since 1994.
The father of the Dresden Stollen Festival und at the same time the rediscoverer of the Grand Stollen Knife is Dr. Peter Mutscheller, an expert in art and culture hailing from Baden-Württemberg. In 1993, during his investigations into the history of Saxon handicraft, Mutscheller came across some grafics and reports about the amusement camp in Zeithain. These stories and depictions inspired him to revive the traditional Stollen Festival in Dresden. He developed the basic concept of the spectacle. In cooperation with the Dresden bakers and pastry chefs of the organization „Dresden Stollen e.V.“ and with the PR- and event expert, Holger Zastrow, the first Dresden Stollen Festival was realized. Originally, the festival was planned as a one-time event. But owing to the sensational success of the 1st Dresden Stollen Festival in 1994, Peter Mutscheller and his company Hommage Dresden has organized an annual Stollen Festival in association with the Stollenschutzverband („Trade Protection Society Dresden Stollen“) on every Saturday prior to the 2nd Advent. The Dresden Stollen Festival is an patented brand.