The Christmas Pyramid stands as a centerpiece of the Dallas Arboretum’s Christmas Village, and you’ll see it as you approach it. Blue and white with a red roof and a spinning golden propeller, the pyramid marks the center of Pyramid Square, and is a new addition to the Dallas Arboretum’s spectacular holiday season celebration.
Dallas Arboretum has always been known for its breathtaking seasonal displays, and few are more renowned than their holiday decorations. People pour in to see the Arboretum’s 12 Days of Christmas display, a series of gazebos like life-sized snow globes scattered throughout the park. Last year, they debuted the Pauline and Austin Neuhoff Christmas Village, inspired by European Christmas Markets.
This year, the star of the Arboretum’s Christmas is a 23-foot-tall four-tiered German-built Christmas pyramid in the center of the village.
“It’s a big effort,” says Dave Forehands, vice president of Gardends. “On November 1, we were taking pumpkins down, and the gazebos and Christmas Village elements were rolling in.”
The tradition of Christmas pyramids, or Weihnachtspyramide, is rooted in folklore and customs of the Ore Mountain region of Germany. In fact, Forehand adds, many people display small, table-top pyramids with their nativities. Household versions usually hold candles; when lit, the heat from the candles makes the little propellers on top of the pyramids spin. The levels typically display nativity scenes, angels, and wise men.
“Our pyramid is somewhat unique. It’s colorful; traditional ones in Europe are wooden,” Forehand says. They wanted it to match the spirit of the Arboretum and the village.
The idea for a pyramid came from Pauline and Austin Neuhoff, the namesakes of the Christmas Village. They have a Christmas pyramid in their own yard during the holidays. After the success of the Christmas Village last year, they suggested one final touch for the village: a Christmas Pyramid. It was sponsored by the Marilyn and Ben Weber Family.
Fifteen artisans from Erzgebirge region, also known as the Ore mountains, worked for six months building the octagonal structure with 22 hand-carved figurines. When they commissioned the pyramid from German craftsmen, a couple of them offered to fly over and help the Arboretum team build the pyramid. However, because of the pandemic, they couldn’t come.
Austin Neuhoff, an experienced Christmas tree maker, volunteered his help. He builds his own every year. Forehand says they got it all up in about a day and a half. “It’s so well made. Each piece and part goes together seamlessly. You’ve heard the term Gemeran engineering. They’re very precise.”
Fully completed, each of the Christmas pyramid’s four levels spins. The first level contains a nativity scene. Six flower children spin on the second level, each representing different flowers at the arboretum. On the third level, there are four shopkeepers who look like nutcrackers. The four figures–an apothecary, a cobbler, a clock maker, and a book maker–represent the shops in the Christmas Village. Finally, four angels dance on the top level.
When the lights turn on—the arboretum displays over a million lights throughout the property—Forehand says that the scenes on the pyramid are especially beautiful.
The Arboretum sells timed tickets at limited capacity because of COVID-19 restrictions. All guests must also wear masks while they visit the displays.
“People want to feel safe, and be outdoors, and experience the holidays. We really wanted to go all out this year,” Forehand says.
The Christmas Village opens November 27 and runs through December 31. All guests must purchase timed tickets online at dallasarboretum.org or by calling 214-515-6615. No walk-ups are available for purchase.