Christmas Pyramids from Germany Delight Adults and Children Alike
Remember the scene in Christmas Vacation when Cousin Eddy knocks all the fins off the spinning thing on the table? It’s a classic movie moment and the first time many people were introduced to the traditional German Christmas pyramid. Dating back to the Middle Ages in Germany, these delightful spinning Christmas decorations continue to charm all who see them, young and old.
Powered solely by candles, setting up a Christmas pyramid is fast and easy.
Don’t worry, Chevy Chase played up the fins falling off for comedy. While your pyramid will cause people to smile, it won’t be because it’s funny to watch you assemble it!
Christmas pyramids may be used to decorate a home for the Christmas season. Dating back to the Middle Ages, the first pyramids were produced in the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) and are believed to be the precursor of Christmas trees. The pyramids are carousels with several levels that depict different, usually Christian, motifs, such as nativity scenes or angels.
Pyramids are generally made of wood and based on four- to eight-sided platforms, with a long pole in the middle that acts as the axle. Heat from burning candles that are placed around the pyramid moves the blades, causing the tiers to slowly turn.
Proper Blade Angle and Pyramid Placement Are Necessary
Some people have a little bit of trouble getting their pyramid to spin properly. The first thing to check is whether the pyramid can spin freely at all. Give it a slight push and see if it stops rapidly. If it does, it might be out of alignment. Try moving the spinning disc until it falls into place and will spin smoothly.
If your pyramid will spin easily when pushed, the problem may be with your blade angles. Make sure they are not flat or vertical. They should be inserted at around a 30° angle to the base. If the blades are properly angled, make sure the pyramid is flat and level. Be sure to put it far away from drafts. The pyramid works when rising warm air from the candles goes past the blades. A breeze will blow the warm air away before it has a chance to make the pyramid spin.
Lastly, remember to be patient. It takes a few seconds for enough heat to be generated by the candles to get the pyramid to spin.
You can try giving it a tiny push to help it get started, but once it’s running, the candles alone will keep it moving. For a really fast spin, try angling the blades at 45°, just be sure not to go over 45° or it may not spin at all!