Tall wooden towers crowned with rotating propellers turned by the heat from candles are a key fixture at Germany’s many Christmas markets.

Known as “pyramids,” the carefully carved constructions are the most fanciful expression of the holiday handicraft tradition from the Erzgebirge region in the eastern state of Saxony.

The larger-than-life displays and hand-carved figures like nutcrackers and candle-laden arches trace their origins to the Erzgebirge’s long mining history in the surrounding ore-rich mountains along the Czech border. The now booming Christmas trade began back in the 1800s, deriving from humble beginnings as a creative outlet and representation of the local miners’ particular penchant for light.

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