The name “Christmas Pyramid” came about because the Napoleonic Campaign in Egypt at the end of the 18th century brought pictures of the pyramids back to Europe and eventually to the Erzgebirge, where they reminded the people of the mining winches and the Christmas constructions.
Christmas Pyramids (German: Weihnachtspyramide) are Christmas decorations that have their roots in the folklore and customs of the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) region of Germany.
The history of the wooden Christmas Pyramids dates back to the 16th century and although there is no proof of it, there are indications that what is now a very popular tradition of the Christmas tree has evolved from the first Christmas Pyramids in the Erzgebirge.
During the 18th century the Erzgebirge region was a thriving mining community. For centuries, the Erzgebirge mines produced everything from silver to tin to even uranium.
Miners who worked far below the surface of the earth for most of the day used to make their own handmade “Lichtergestell”, a forerunner of the pyramid, to take with them into the mines to make sure that there was enough fresh air inside the mines because candles will not burn properly without a fair amount of oxygen.
When mining productions began to dwindle, the miners gradually became skilled wood artisans, producing their own handmade crafts and opened their own business.
“Lichtergestell” (literally : light stand) was a construction which became very popular in the 18th century. They were made of four poles and decorated with evergreen boughs, hand carved wooden figurines; tied together at the top and lit with candles. There was no movement on the “Lichtergestell” at that time.
Later the Erzgebirge artisans developed new features. A wooden staff was put into the middle of the “Lichtergestell” rack and a propeller (impeller) was tied to the staff. On the bottom the artisans added a wooden plate that was also tied to the middle staff of the pyramid. Because of the candle heat the propeller started to move and the plate with the figurines started to turn. Today an Erzgebirge Christmas Pyramid is much more elaborate and perfected compared to the first turning pyramids. But the basic elements are still the same.
Generally Christmas Pyramids and the figures, which stand on the platforms, are made of wood and the carousel is traditionally decorated with nativity scenes and other Christmas figures such as angels and wise men, as well as worldly motifs such as mining folk and forest scenes. More and more contemporary designs are created; some can be used all year round.
In many cities in the Erzgebirge and wider Germany there are large Christmas Pyramids on the Market Square at the Christmas Market or in other locations associated with Christmas hustle and bustle.
A beautiful German Erzgebirge Pyramid spreads warm light all over your living-room. It creates a unique festive atmosphere. When the candles are lit, the tiers slowly begin to turn creating an enchanting play of light and shadow. All this and much more makes the Christmas Pyramid one of the favourite products of the German Erzgebirge.
We have several styles in the store which are proving to be very popular.
Why not gift one to a friend (or yourself) this year so they can share in this beautiful Christmas tradition too.