THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.
You know that Christmas is on its way when the Weihnachtspyramiden come out of their boxes. Every year, the spinning Christmas pyramid carousels delight both children and adults alike in Germany. And my family is no exception. It is one of my favorite memories as a child growing up when the Weihnachtspyramide found its way into our living room weeks before Christmas. The pyramid depicting a Santa Claus pulling a little sled and a girl and boy holding presents and other goodies would always sit on our dining room table or coffee table and create light magic during our weekly family dinners, weekend family breakfasts and advent Kaffee und Kuchen (afternoon coffee and cake) get-togethers.
A German Christmas Pyramid Carousel is generally made out of wood and uses physics to create magic. It features paddles on top that attach to a central pin. Around the bottom of the pyramid, candleholders are arranged in a circular pattern, allowing hot air to rise up to the paddles and spin them. This in turn allows the central scene to spin. It is a mesmerizing experience that creates a sense of calm and magic in any room and especially on its ceiling.
It is said that the Christmas pyramids have their origin in the Erzgebirge of Germany and served as a way for miners to understand how to engineer simple machines with wood for the mines. Over time the Lichtergestelle or light stands shrunk in size and became much smaller, allowing them to bring light and cheer into homes during the dark winter days.
Soon carved figures were added, showcasing everyday life along with Christian designs like angels and nativity scenes. Nowadays, the Christmas pyramids depict everything from Santa Claus and children playing in the snow to penguins and just plain forest scenes.
Some Pyramids are large and wildly intricate, depicting multiple scenes on multiple levels, like the one my Dad bought and sent to me a few years ago. Others are small, simple, and have only a few carved figures, like the one my Oma (or grandma) gave to me a few years ago when we moved into our new home. But no matter how big they are, they are all beautiful in their own way.
During the holiday season, many cities, especially in the Southern parts of Germany, put up large scale Christmas pyramids in town squares and at local Christmas Markets along with other places that house the typical Christmas hustle and bustle. Some of these large Christmas pyramids are as tall as a single-family home.
Most common, however, are the smaller Christmas pyramids that you can have in your home. They belong to Christmas like eating sweets and like the early versions, they add light and joy to the home when the days are short.
And even though the Christmas pyramid is such an integral part of the Christmas season in Germany, it is said that poorer households had them first due to the fact that they could not afford a Christmas tree.
There is no doubt that these wooden carousels – not matter what size or shape – are the type of decoration that will get handed down from generations to generations.