German Christmas Tradition in Rothenburg

The festive spirit is truly contagious.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber
A picturesque view of Rothenburg ob der Tauber from the tower of the town wall.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
A picturesque view of Rothenburg ob der Tauber from the tower of the town wall.

Having arrived one day early to Munich, Germany, I decided to spend part of the day strolling around the well-preserved medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which in German means “Red fortress above the Tauber”. The town is perched on a plateau overlooking the Tauber river which is why the surrounding wall that guards the town against potential enemies is only needed around part of the perimeter.

Though I was not in a Christmas mood on a sunny spring day in Germany, I decided I had to peruse through Käthe Wohlfahrt, coined as “The world famous Christmas Shop” having traveled over 2 hours from Munich by bus to get to Rothenburg.

The festive spirit is truly contagious. Before I knew it, I was enchanted with the wooden Christmas pyramids that Germany has become renowned for. My mother-in-law has a tiny one which she puts out for Christmas morning breakfast. My aunt has one that is at least two tiers, fully painted and grandly elaborate.

The giant Christmas Pyramid in Kathe Wohlfahrt shop in Rothenburg.

For those that do not know what a Christmas Pyramid is, it is a wooden sculpture that turns around on a glass bearing and has propellers on the top that spin the sculpture when hot air, created by the candles which one lights below are lit. It was believed that originally, they were invented by the poor who could not afford a real Christmas tree. What was a simple substitute for a real tree is now an elaborate art form.

Käthe Wohlfahrt has by far the widest selection of Pyramids that I could find in Rothenburg. I had a difficult time choosing one from the many they had from about three different companies in Germany. I finally decided on a medium sized one crafted by Müller Kleinkunst, a company founded by Oswald Müller in 1899 that made toys and miniatures. It was in the 1950s when Paul Müller, Oswald’s son, actually introduced his Christmas Pyramid.

This Christmas Pyramid I chose from Müller Kleinkunst. The piece is entitled, "Christmas Morning".

It took me over half an hour to examine each pyramid in the store and finally select this one.

Firstly, I liked the size of this pyramid. It was not too small that it would disappear on the dining table during Christmas. Yet not too big that it looses the charm and delicate nature of the piece which drew me to them in the first place.

Secondly, I liked the mix of exotic woods that give the piece depth without overpowering like some of the painted pyramids. The painted pyramids were adorable, but in the end, I liked the traditional look of the natural wood grain.

Incredible detail of the tree in the center of the piece.

Finally, I liked having the Christmas tree motif in the center and although there were other manufacturers that also had this motif, only these ones in the store made by Müller Kleinkunst had the branches fully curled. I thought this took greater skill to craft.

Incredible detail went into each piece on this pyramid.

The piece will be shipped home as I have little faith I would be able to carry such a delicate piece home in one piece. When it arrives on my door step, it will be an early Christmas!

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Loni Stark
Loni Stark is a self-professed foodie, and adventure travel seeker, and yet is also passionate about technology’s impact on business and creativity. She's the host of our Stark Insider video features. It’s been said her laugh can be heard from San Jose all the way up to the Golden Gate Bridge. She makes no claims to super powers, although sushi is definitely her Kryptonite. Loni's story...