Christmas in the northern hemisphere, it just makes sense. Firstly, you are more likely to see snow than you are here in New Zealand. Secondly, most of the traditions we follow in the western world were developed in the northern hemisphere to cater to their time of year. Thirdly, all your senses are activated - from walking the evening Christmas Markets to cutting down your own tree the smells are as much a part of the season as the sights, sounds and tastes are.
One of the sights we associate with Christmas are the lights. Over recent years the use of decorative lighting for the festive season has become more and more popular in New Zealand. You only need to take a walk or drive down streets such as Franklin Rd in Ponsonby during the lead up to Christmas to see this in evidence. But where did the idea of lighting your house come from?
Well, the dark and cold of the season has led to many of the items that are used to celebrate Christmas today, and lighting is no different. In the Erzgebirge region of eastern Germany comes the tradition of Wooden Candle Arches and Pyramids - which are among the most fabulous of all Christmas decorations. This region was a mining area, and with the short daylight hours the men from the villages would leave home before sunrise and return home after sunset during the winter months. In order to light their way the miners took candles. Along with mining wood was a primary industry in the region, and many of the locals were skilled artisans. These artisans used the motifs of the local environment to develop more decorative candles for the miners to take with them, as well as ways of lighting the houses of the village in the evenings. The Candle Arch was born to light the windows of the village houses to guide the men home. The Arch was designed to mimic the entrances to the mines.
The candle Pyramid was derived from the candles that the miners took with them into the mines. These were vital as the candles served as a way to check the amount of oxygen, as well as light. The first pyramids were usually made from sticks into a pyramid shape with candles on the corners of the base, but over time the local artisans made more and more designs and added elements of the local way of life in the form of decorations to develop the wonderfully decorative pieces that are seen today.