The needler in the haystack.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Moravian Star of Christmas

 

To this farm boy gone to college in Pennsylvania Dutch country, one of the delights of the Christmas holidays was the ornament known as the Moravian Star, a many-pointed three-dimensional geometry lesson traditionally manufactured by Moravian communities.

My college was not far from Bethlehem, founded in the 18th-century by Moravians (the other well-known Moravian community is Winston-Salem, North Carolina).

The star could be seen on treetops, in putzes, as porch lights, and suspended high in church naves. Its popularity had spread and it was seen in many other denominations (including the one to which I belonged) other than the Moravians who had given it its start.

They are a prominent fixture in the holiday marketing of the Bethlehem of today, which is a sort of Disneyized re-invention of the working-class and college town I had known as a young man.

No matter, they are still spectacular pieces of craftsmanship -- and a good visual geometry lesson.

Merry Christmas to all!


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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2 comments:

YEP I SAID IT!!! said...

Merry Christmas Dan -

Wishing you lots of continued success with your daily and well read blog -Plainfield Today.

All of the very best!

Yep I Said It!!!

Anonymous said...

Dan,

As a native of Bethlehem, PA, I don't recall hearing that so-called Moravian or advent stars were manufactured by the Moravians in this country. The ones I have purchased in Bethlehem for the past 25 years or more were all imported from Germany. Perhaps the Moravians hand made them in the early days for their own use. They were originally made out of paper, but now one can also obtain plastic and glass versions. Displaying them on a covered porch was the traditional practice, perhaps because they were originally made of paper. Displaying candles in windows was also a Moravian Christmas tradition when I was a kid.

The Bethlehem city fathers (who, by the way, were seldom Moravians in the 20th century) set the goal of having every house display candles in the window. I doubt that they ever came close to the goal. The effect can be nearly as spectacular as a whole neighborhood of luminaria. My family considers candles in the windows and an advent star to be essential parts of Christmas, although there is no Moravian blood in our veins.

Happy New Year to you and all your readers from me and my family, and keep that advent star lit until Epiphany!

Jim

[Jim -- I moved your comment here; it was on the post about the council time schedule -- Dan]