One of the prominent Christmas decorations we display every year is the Christmas Pyramid – Weihnachtspyramide. I sold Christmas Around the World items for a few years while raising my children for some additional spending money on a teacher’s salary. During that time, I acquired a couple of these well-known German fascinations.
Early German pyramids appeared in the 16th century and some believe their design was inspired by the shape of the Christmas tree. There is story of a 7th century English monk who traveled to Germany and used the triangular shape of the fir tree to explain the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (much like St. Patrick and the 3-leaf clover). This is when German began placing Christmas trees in their homes as a symbol of their Christian faith. Where Did the German Christmas Pyramid Come From
A more likely explanation is that the term “pyramid” (Peremett in dialect) was first used in a 1716 chronicle to describe the “pyramids of light” – candle-illuminated pyramid constructions – set up for Christmas inside the St. Wolfgang church in Schneeberg (Saxony). German Christmas Pyramid (Weihnachtspyramide)
The region of the Ore Mountains, bordering Czech Republic, is the source of several popular German Christmas decorations, including glass ornaments and the Christmas pyramid. Realizing this, one of the characters in my yet to be released novel is from a woodworker family there. She makes some wooden characters for the children in the story. Hopefully, it will be out next year if all goes well.
As the name implies, the Ore Mountains were known for mining when silver was discovered there in the 12th century. When mining declined in the 16th and 17th century, the miners turned their hobby of woodcarving into an opportunity for earning money. Miners knew the importance of light and incorporated light into their carvings. The first Christmas pyramids were used as a way of bringing the light of Christmas inside. Christmas Pyramids Part of Germany’s Woodcarving History
Traditional pyramids are made of wood and have one to five levels. The candle-powered windmill rotates a fan at the top of the pyramid. Each level displays carved figures that revolve with the movement of the windmill. Occasionally there are bell chimes that ring too. Sometimes they are called Drehturm, or revolving towers and can cost several hundred dollars depending on size, levels, and intricate designs. A “Drehbaum” is also larger than a typical Christmas pyramid.Christmas Pyramids can be found far and wide in a variety of sizes, shapes and styles. It is a common tradition in German homes and they are still handmade in the Erzgebirge region of Germany (the Ore Mountains) using the tradition methods handed down from generation to generation. The same tradition traveled to America with German immigration and a number of US cities have proud displays of Christmas pyramids like Cullman, AL and Fredericksburg, TX. There are videos of both below.
Large replica Christmas pyramids can be found throughout Germany. Some stand as high as 30 feet. Hanover has laid claim to Germany’s tallest replica since 2014 with a 60 foot Christmas tower. German Christmas Pyramid (Weihnachtspyramide)
Christmas Pyramids can be found far and wide in a variety of sizes, shapes and styles. It is a common tradition in German homes and they are still handmade in the Erzgebirge region of Germany (the Ore Mountains) using the tradition methods handed down from generation to generation. The same tradition traveled to America with German immigration and a number of US cities have proud displays of Christmas pyramids like Cullman, AL and Fredericksburg, TX. There are links to both them here. https://www.wbrc.com/2019/11/21/german-christmas-pyramid-celebrates-cullmans-history/
I do not know how you decorate for the holidays but I hope you have some cherished pieces that bring back fond memories as we near Christmas day.