Category: World / November 28, 2012 7:28 PM EST
The smell of mulled wine known as Gluehwein and grilled sausages filled the air in Dresden's Altmarkt square on Wednesday night (November 28) as Germany's oldest Christmas market opened for the 578th time.
Thousands of people packed the center of this eastern German city to visit what locals call the "Striezelmarkt."
Bakers carried a 2012 millimeter long Striezel Christmas cake through the crowd, slices of which were then handed out for free.
Ingredients for this traditional Dresden cake include flour, sugar, butter, Jamaican rum and, most importantly, raisins.
"It's delicious, just great," said Christmas market visitor Rica Roessler who was there with her child.
With the arrival of the cold weather, Christmas markets are a familiar picture all over Germany, with vendors selling everything from handicraft to grilled sausages and mulled wine.
According to the city of Dresden, visitors this year will find 233 stalls, all arranged around a 105-year-old local Christmas tree and a wooden pyramid made in the eastern German Erzgebirge region.
Dresden's Striezelmarkt will close at 2 p.m. on December 24, just hours before Germans traditionally celebrate Christmas in the evening.
Organizers say they again expect "at least 2 million" visitors over the three-week period.