Thursday, December 20, 2018

What is A Christmas Pyramid?

While researching Christmas traditions in Texas, I came across something I’d never heard of before: the Christmas Pyramid. A common tradition in Germany, the weihnachtspyramide (Christmas pyramid) is a tiered wooden tower adorned with nativity figures topped by a ring of candles. When lighted, heat from the candles turns a windmill atop the tower which causes the figures to rotate.

Fredericksburg, Texas, boasts a 26-foot-tall Christmas pyramid. Imported from Germany, it’s the only one of its kind in the U.S. 

Settling mainly in the hill country of Central Texas, the influx of Germans to Texas started in 1831, when Frederick Ernst acquired land in Austin County. The largest immigration of Germans came in the 1840s when the Adelsverein (The Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas) was organized in Germany. It assisted thousands in coming to Texas and establishing settlements such as New Braunfels and Fredericksburg.

German Christmas Pyramids date back to the 16th century, and many believe they evolved into the custom of a Christmas tree. Christmas pyramids have their roots in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains), a silver mining region in eastern Germany. When the mines began to close, woodworkers turned to making and selling wooden toys including pyramids. Most were tabletop-size.

The pyramids captured the attention of children and were used to teach them Bible stories. Figurines depicting each part of a story were arranged in order on the tiers of the pyramid. Christmas pyramids tell the Nativity story of Jesus’ birth and include angels blowing trumpets, shepherds visiting the stable and magi bringing gifts.

Fredericksburg’s Christmas pyramid was first displayed at Marktplatz, the town square, during the 2009 holiday season. It is illuminated each year on the Friday evening following Thanksgiving, and remains lit through Epiphany, the first week of January.

The city’s German heritage is also on display at the Pioneer Museum, featuring settlers’ homesteads and artifacts.

Lyn Horner is a multi-published, award-winning author of western historical romance and romantic suspense novels, all spiced with paranormal elements. She is a former fashion illustrator and art instructor who resides in Fort Worth, Texas – “Where the West Begins” - with her husband and a pair of very spoiled cats. As well as crafting passionate love stories, Lyn enjoys reading, gardening, genealogy, visiting with family and friends, and cuddling her furry, four-legged children.

Amazon Author Page: (universal link)
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  1. What a great memory. When I was a child we had something similar. Very small, of course. Thank you for reminding me.

  2. Glad this post brings back fond memories for you, Gini. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. That Christmas pyramid has to be a beautiful sight to see! I have seen table top versions, but now know their interesting history. Merry Christmas, Lyn.

    1. Cheri, I had never even seen a small version. I hope to see the Fredericksburg pyramid in person one of these years. Hubby and I have visited the town several times but never at Christmas.

      Have a wonderful Christmas!

  4. We have a Christmas pyramid that's about two feet tall which my husband brought our youngest from Germany. I didn't know what it was called until your post, Lyn.

    1. Caroline, I'm glad I could supply the name. It's such a charming, unusual Christmas tradition. Wishing you a blessed Christmas and 2019!


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