How to Create a German Christmas Pyramid

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German Christmas pyramids are wooden towers decorated with sculptures and carvings of holiday motifs, including angels and religious figures. Some resemble Christmas trees, and they traditionally spin with the help of the heat of ‌kerzen‌, or candles, placed at the base of the pyramid. The rising heat spins a fan at the top and rotates a platform in the middle, which moves the decorations as well.


They were first made in the Erzgebirge or "Ore Mountain" region of Germany, in the east around Dresden. Called ‌weihnachtspyramide‌ in Germany, making one can be a yearlong project involving a drill press and scroll saws, but it is possible to simplify this symbol of Xmas cheer to build at any skill level by using a kit.

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Things You'll Need

  • Pattern for scroll saw or pyramid kit

  • Metal or wooden base

  • Metal or dowel rod

  • Fan head and blades

  • Wooden Christmas figures or hanging metal angels

  • 1 1/4" finishing nail or shorter

  • Glue or epoxy

  • Candles or tea lights

  • Matches

German Christmas pyramid kits

The easiest way to make your own German Christmas pyramid is from a commercially produced kit. Look for a kit that matches your skill level. If you own a scroll saw and a drill press, there are patterns available for highly detailed projects. Scroll Saw Magazine sells a pattern specifically for a rotating Christmas pyramid with two levels in the shape of a church. A shop called sells German woodworker Volker Arnold patterns for several kinds of traditional German Christmas decorations, and you can also find these and similar patterns on Etsy.


If you want something simpler, purchase natural wood or metal pieces already cut out to assemble. Brubaker USA sells authentic Christmas pyramids of all kinds that you just need to assemble rather than create from scratch. The famous German store Erzgebirge Palace, founded by Richard Glaesser in 1932, has a vast array of German pyramid carousels.


How to Assemble a German Pyramid Set

Create the base of the German Christmas carousel by fitting together the interlocking pieces, though some kits will require nails. Pyramids can have anywhere from one candle to hundreds. The simplest version uses one tea light inside a heavy candleholder that supports the rest of the pyramid. Many pyramids have four or five candles, requiring additional tea light holders for a brighter decoration.


Install the dowel rod

Connect the dowel rod or metal rod to the center of the base. A metal rod will clip in easily when you squeeze it so that the hooks catch the slots in the base. The dowel needs to be fitted carefully with a finishing nail and an acorn nut in the base, but the dimensions depend on your kit. The more complex kits have a lower platform that spins, and the basic pyramids only spin at the top.



Attach the platform or the blades

If you're building a two-tiered wooden Christmas pyramid, attach the second platform to the dowel. Otherwise, insert the blades in the fan head and push it into the top of the rod. Don't use glue or epoxy yet. Check to make sure it spins easily without much friction.


Finish your German Christmas pyramid

Finish the assembly by adding the decorations. Metal angels hook into the top, where the fan spins, or they are tied to the blades of the fan. Wooden figurines can be glued to the lower platform. Check first to make sure the platform still spins with the extra weight.



The fan and platform will spin more easily if they are closer to the candles, but make sure the flame will not scorch the blades of the fan.

Add sewing machine oil or paraffin wax to the rod or nail to help the pyramid rotate smoothly.

After all the pieces are attached, place the pyramid candles in the holders and light them. The heat should cause the platform to rotate slowly in the candlelight.


Never leave a burning candle unattended.

Each year at the Christmas market, Dresden puts up a 45-foot-tall pyramid displaying angels and an entire nativity scene. These pyramids are also called "rotating Christmas pyramids" or "table whirligigs."



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