The German Christmas Pyramid
Christmas Pyramids undoubtedly belong to the most impressive items the Erzgebirge has to offer. The history of the wooden Christmas pyramids dates back to the 16th century. Although there is no proof for it, there are indications that the nowadays very popular tradition of the Christmas tree has evolved from the first Christmas Carousel in the Erzgebirge.
At first the Miners tied several wooden sticks together at the top and placed hand carved wooden figurines and candles below this Rack and called it LIGHT RACK (German: Lichtergestell). At first there was no movement on the Light Rack.
Later the Erzgebirge craftsmen developed new features. A wooden staff was put into the middle of the Light Rack and a propeller (impeller) was tied to the staff. On the bottom the craftsmen 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.
More than any other item from the Erzgebirge the Christmas pyramid expresses the Erzgebirge woodworking tradition, the love of the craftsmen for their homeland. Also the Christmas pyramids are an important element of the German Christmas tradition. During Christmas time one of course finds more Christmas trees than Christmas pyramids in German homes but the number of Christmas pyramids is also very high and is still growing continuously.
Today the Erzgebirge manufacturers craft a huge variety of Christmas pyramids. Most pyramids show a nativity scene or a scene of the local Erzgebirge nature. The size of the pyramids ranges from 20 cm (8 inches) to almost 2 meters (78 inches). There are even workshops that individually craft single pieces for Christmas fairs that are up to 8 meters (26 ft.) tall. Although most Christmas pyramids are driven by candle heat, the electrical carousels have become more popular in the last 10 years. Particularly the larger Christmas pyramids over 1 meter (39 inches) have become popular with an electrical motor to turn the impeller and the tiers. Some of the most popular manufacturers of Christmas Pyramids are Müller Kleinkunst, Richard Glässer and KWO Olbernhau.
Christmas pyramids have started their triumphal procession from the small town of Seiffen in the Erzgebirge with about 3000 inhabitants and have become very popular all over the world. Besides Germany the Erzgebirge Christmas Carousels decorate homes in many homes in the USA, United Kingdom, Australia, France, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, China and many other countries.
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