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The History of the Candle Arch

Posted by Gregory Burton on

As soon as winter starts, wooden arched candles, known as Schwibbogen, start popping up in windows all throughout Germany. It’s an annual tradition that kicks off the Christmas season and creates the atmosphere for this festive time of year. But where did it originate and how long have Germans been placing these elaborately decorated arches in their windows? Find out everything you need to know here about the unique and fascinating history of the candle arch.

When It First Started

Before electricity was readily available in the early 18th century, miners who lived in the Ore Mountains region of Saxony spent most of the winter months in complete utter darkness. Since they would finish work after the sun had gone down, the miners would often get lost in the woods when coming home. To help guide them home, family members would put candle lights in the windows. This led to the first known candle arch being created by a mountain blacksmith named Johan Teller.

How the Unique Arch Shape Came to Be

At first, the designs were basic in nature, with a painted metal arch and candles placed on top. It is believed that the arch was meant to look like the night sky and the candles were meant to signify the miners longing for daylight in the wintertime. Decorative candle arches were not invented until woodturning became popular in the area. Soon following, wrought iron was replaced with wood, allowing for more intricate hand-carved designs to be created.  

Double and 3D Candle Arches

Since World War II, the Schwibbogen design has changed quite drastically. The designs that were primarily nature scenes and religious motives soon transitioned to nativity scenes, Christian motifs, Christmas themes, animal figures, and German forest landscapes. The traditional semicircular shape has also been expanded to include Christmas trees and triangle forms. And today, you can also find intricately designed arches with 3D effects that run on electricity.

Candle arches have been a German tradition for centuries. Today, you’ll find beautiful and uniquely shaped candle arches in windows across Europe and even North America. If you’d like one for your home or to give as a gift this year, shop our current selection online or visit our store today! At Frankenmuth Clock Company we specialize in German Christmas ornaments, souvenirs, and clocks, and have a wonderful selection of candle arches to choose from.


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