A Christmas Pyramid is a Christmas decoration that has its roots in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) of Germany but has become popular throughout the country. It is suggested that the Christmas pyramid is a predecessor of the Christmas tree; These pyramids themselves are not limited to Christmas: in the Erzgebirge existed a custom of dancing around the "St. John's Tree," "a pyramid decked with garlands and flowers," at the summer solstice.
It is a kind of Carousel with several levels some depicting Christian motifs, such as angels or manger scenes, and others with more secular motifs such as mountain-folk, forests, and other scenes from the everyday life of people in the Erzgebirge. The spinning motion of the pyramids is traditionally achieved with the help of candles whose rising heat spins a propeller above.
Christmas pyramids serve a mainly decorative purpose today, filling children and adults alike with holiday cheer.
Generally Christmas pyramids are made of wood and based on four- to eight-sided platforms with a long pole in the middle serving as the axle to which the entire apparatus tapers above and which supports any further platforms. Inside in a glass or ceramic support is a driveshaft on to which at least one platform is attached. The figures, which stand on the platforms are also traditionally made of wood.
Christmas pyramids take various forms from intricately carved miniature houses with pitched roofs, to large multi-level structures that simply serve as a display for the carved figures. In many cities in the Ore Mountains there are large Christmas pyramids on the Market Square at the Christmas Market or in other locations associated with Christmas hustle and bustle