Tradition and Modernity
Museum Europäischer Kulturen
During the Christmas period, illuminations on pyramid-shaped frames were once found in many regions across the German-speaking world. The Berlin Christmas market in the 19th century would have been unthinkable without such "Perjemiden", as they were referred to locally. This tradition first became threatened with the spread of the railways, when it became much easier to transport freshly felled Christmas trees to the cities for private and public display. The Christmas pyramids would have faded into complete obscurity if it had not been for the rotating pyramids with horizontal fans that originate from the Ore Mountains. This kind of advent pyramid continues to enjoy great popularity today.
The exhibition 'Christmas Pyramids - Tradition and Modernity' presents around 100 advent pyramids from the Museum Europäischer Kulturen's rich collection. The oldest specimens date from 1900, while the youngest are recent acquisitions.
The exhibition includes all kinds of pyramids and their diverse histories, starting with the simple "stick pyramid" and extending all the way up to large-scale, many-tiered pyramids. The display focuses in particular on the traditions of the Ore Mountains, but also includes such unusual forms as the shadow theatres from Sebnitz, the Holdenstedt pyramids with their rows of angels, and the "Bügelbaum" (literally: "curved tree"), a tradition particular to the small Baltic island of Hiddensee. Modern twists to this Christmas tradition are also featured in the display.
A key attraction at today's show is the large freestanding pyramid from Cunersdorf, which is over three metres high and has carved figures on three tiers. It is on display in the museum's garden. Powered by electricity, this pyramid was built in 1964 as a collaborative effort by the local wood carvers association in Cunersdorf. Objects like this one now mean that the advent pyramid lights up Christmas, not just more millions of people across Germany, but for people celebrating Christmas all over the globe.
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