The custom of baking Christmas Stollen is ancient and originated in Dresden around the year 1450. At that time, the various forms of baked goods were used to reflect ecclesiastical memories. For example, the pancakes were supposed to represent the sponge with which the Saviour was soaked on the cross and the pretzel the bondage which the gentleman had to wear. In its form, the Stollen is nothing more than a symbol of the Christ Child wrapped in diapers. In the past, the town of Siebenlehn was famous by name for its tunnels. The bakers there sent their baked goods far and wide.
Therefore they got into a serious dispute with the Meissen bakers in 1615, because they did not want to tolerate that the Siebenlehner biscuits were brought to Meissen. The Dresden bakers complained in 1663 that the bakers of Siebenlehn had brought large baking batches to Dresden. The preparation of the stollen may have been different at that time than it is now.
Until the middle of the 15th century, when Lent was just around the corner, it was not allowed to use butter for baking. As the Christmas celebrations were preceded by the big Advent fast, only oil could be used to bake the Stollen, as butter was forbidden. That was very uncomfortable, and the pastries didn’t taste too good. That is why the sons of Elector Ernst turned to the Pope in 1490 to have this ban lifted. As both princes may have justified the petition, we can conclude from L. Pausa’s literary copy of the Pope’s reply.
This one reads:
„Sintemahl nun, daß euretwegen für uns vorgegeben, daß in Euren Herrschaften und Landen keine Oehlbäume wachsen und daß man des Oehls nicht genug, sondern viel zu wenig und stinkend habe, daß man dann teuer kaufen muß, oder solches Oehl allda habe, das man aus dem Rübsenoehl mach, daß der Menschen Natur zuwider und ungesund, durch dessen Gebrauch die Einwohner der Lande in mancherlei Krankheit fallen. Als sind wir in den Dingen zu eurer Bitte geneigt und bewilligen in päpstlicher Gewalt, in Kraft dieses Briefes, daß ihr, eure Weiber, Söhne, Töchter und all eure wahren Diener und Hausgesinde der Butter anstatt des Oehls ohne einige Pön (Buße, Strafe) frei und ziemlich gebrauchen möget.“
Later – in 1491 – all persons in divided Saxony were allowed to mix their pastries with butter. However, the Pope attached to this permission the condition that the twentieth part of a Rhenish gold guilder was to be paid annually for the construction of the Torgau Bridge and the Freiberg Cathedral. When Saxony became Protestant, the ban ceased to apply.