or Nicholas Tree

Klausenbaum from above
Klausenbaum from above
In Austria figures of St. Nicholas and Krampus are placed with the Klausenbaum

The Klausenbaum or Nicholas Tree dates from the 15th century, predating both Advent wreaths and Christmas pyramids. The name comes from Nicholas (Niklaus/Klaus). It is also known as the Tree of Paradise, probably because it is adorned with apples and sweets. The Klausenbaum is thought to have originated in southern Germany and is still common in Friesland (lower Saxony), the North, Baltic Sea islands, and Sweden.

The tree, forming a tetrahedron with four equilateral triangles, symbolizes God, as the divine is revealed in the perfection of a triangle. The four triangles become one and three, forming a unit like the Trinity. One in three and three in one becomes four. Four represents the presence of God in matter, as four is the symbol for the material world. The four apples represent the four elements: fire, earth, air and water.

Klausenbaum is made of natural materials: apples, sticks and greens.


  • 6 3/8-inch dowels, 10-inches long
  • 4 beautiful red, polished apples
  • greens
  • fine wire or thread
  • 1 candle
  • 1 plate
  • nuts and cookies


  • Sharpen dowels or sticks (use a manual pencil sharpener, not electric)
  • Spray paint dowels gold, if desired
  • Polish apples
    • Construct pyramid
  • Attach greens with fine wire or thread (I used gold metallic thread)
  • Hollow out a small hole in the top apple for a candle, may secure with a bit of melted wax
  • Place on plate and add nuts and cookies


  • Klausenbaum may have sprigs of greens put into the apples instead of along the dowels.
  • Candles may be placed in each apple.
  • More elaborate taller Klausenbaum are built with two tiers of apples.

The Klausenbaum may take its place on the Advent table, or even outside where birds will enjoy the apples.

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