Moravian Christmas Traditions We Still Have Today

img_1022By Tamera Lynn Kraft

In my novella, A Christmas Promise, I write about Moravian missionaries in Schoenbrunn Village, circa 1773. The Moravians brought many Christmas traditions to America that we use to celebrate Christ’s birth today. Here are a few of them.

red room with christmas-tree and colorful gift - rendering

The Christmas Tree: Moravians brought the idea of decorating Christmas trees in their homes in the early 1700s, long before it became a popular tradition in the United States.

 

Illustration of Christmas candle lighted with wreath isolated on white background done in retro style.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Services: Most churches have Christmas Eve services where they sing Christmas carols and light candles to show Jesus came to be the light of the world. The Moravian Church has been doing that for centuries. They call their services lovefeasts because they also have a part of the service where they serve sweetbuns and coffee – juice for the kids – and share Christ’s love with each other. For candles, Moravians use bleached beeswax with a red ribbon tied around them. The white symbolizes the purity of Christ and red symbolizes that His blood was shed for us.

The Moravian Star: In the 1840s at a Moravian school, students made 24 point stars out of triangles for their geometry lessons. Soon those Moravian stars started making their way on the tops of Christmas trees. The star as a Christmas tree topper is still popular today.

The Putz: The putz is a Christmas nativity scene surrounded by villages or other Biblical scenes. Moravian children in the 1700s would make a putz to put under their Christmas tree. Today, nativity scenes and Christmas villages are popular decorations.

achristmaspromise_medA Christmas Promise

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

“Revel in the spirit of a Colonial Christmas with this achingly tender love story that will warm both your heart and your faith. With rich historical detail and characters who live and breathe on the page, Tamera Lynn Kraft has penned a haunting tale of Moravian missionaries who selflessly bring the promise of Christ to the Lenape Indians. A beautiful way to set your season aglow, A Christmas Promise is truly a promise kept for a heartwarming holiday tale.” – Julie Lessman

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10 Reason I Don’t Feel Guilty for Being Joyful at Christmas

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

There is a trend among Christians to try to make people feel guilty for being joyful at Christmas time. Some even say that we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas, but I refuse to allow their naysaying to rob me of my joy. Here are 10 reason to feel joyful at Christmas without feeling the slightest bit of guilt for it.

10. We can be joyful even when things aren’t great. The Bible says we should count it all joy. In other words, even if we are going through a hard time because of a death in the family or because of hard times, we can still be joyful. The word count could probably be better translated command. We can command ourselves to be joyful. What if it’s is someone else who is going through a hard time? This is often an excuse for not being joyful at Christmas. After all, look at all the terrible things happening in people’s lives. I have a suggestion for you. Are you in the right frame of mind to help someone else when you are in a place of joy or a place of depression. I would suggest we are better equipped in a place of joy.

James 1:2-3 ESV “Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

9. We owe it to those around us to be joyful. Have you ever been around somebody who suck the joy of living out of everyone around him. Joy is contagious, but so is depression. That means if you decide not to be joyful, you affect everyone around you, and if you decide you will be joyful, it will also affect your friends and family. Refuse to allow someone’s bad mood to affect you. Instead be the one who heals those who don’t have joy.

Proverbs 17:22 ESV “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

8. Joy makes us healthy. If it’s true that stress and depression cause us harm physically, it’s also true that a joyful heart with make you healthy. That is why Proverbs 17:22 calls a joyful heart good medicine. Medical professionals have proven laughter is beneficial to our overall health. You can read more about it at this link.

7. Joy will give you spiritual and emotional strength. We receive fullness of joy in the presence of God, and His joy will give us the strength we need to do all the things that stress us out during the day.

Psalm 16:11 ESV “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

6. Who Want to Be a Scrooge? I sure don’t, but some Christians act like that’s exactly what they want. They claim they can’t celebrate Christmas because it’s too commercial and most people don’t celebrate it with the right motives. Who told you you can’t be joyful because other people have the wrong motives? That’s silly. Think about some of the people in the past who wanted to kill other people’s joy at Christmas: Scrooge and the Grinch. Do you really want to be like them? You may say they are mythical characters, and that is true, but they represent those who are like them.

The first man who wanted to destroy the joy of Christmas tried to kill Christ. His name was Herod, and he was not a joyful person. Herod killed his wife, two of his sons, and his wife’s extended family because he thought they were trying to usurp his authority as king. Talk about an unhappy person. He tried to kill Christ and Christmas by ordering all the male children of Bethlehem two years and under to be slaughtered.

Matthew 2:16 ESV  “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.”

5. The angels were joyful at Chist’s birth. They sang and proclaimed how Christ’s birth brought great joy to the Earth. Truthfully, we don’t really know what day Christ was born, and there is controversy about how December 25th was chosen. I don’t care. I know Christ was born, and I don’t know when. So unless someone comes to me with a definitive answer about what day Christ was born, I’m going to celebrate His birth on December 25th with as much exuberance and joy as the angels did.

Luke 2:10-14 ESV And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,’Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'”

4. The shepherds were filled with joy. Everyone was happy when Christ was born, even lowly shepherds. If they can be happy even with smelly sheep, I will be happy with the privileged awesome life God has given me.

Luke 2:20.ESV “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”


3. I’m happy because of presents.
They don’t have to be expensive presents. They can be homemade. The thing is I love to receive presents, and I love to give presents because it reminds me of the joy the Wise Men felt when they saw Jesus and gave Him gifts. They were so joyful they worshipped Him. Our praise and worship comes from the joy we feel about Christ who is God’s gift to us.
Matthew 2:10-11 ESV “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

2. I’m filled with joy when I hear Christmas hymns. Have you ever listened to the words of those hymns. They are songs of worship, and everyone sings them at Christmas – even heathens. What a great time to worship the Lord with songs.

Isaiah 12:6 ESV Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

1. I am joyful because Christ is my salvation. If Christ had not been born, He would have not died for my sins, not would He have raised from the dead defeating sin and death on my behalf. I am beyond joyful because Christmas lead to Easter.
1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

 

Moravian Missionaries in Colonial Ohio

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Schoenbrunn Village

In the 1770s, Moravian missionaries moved to Ohio from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to settle a village called Schoenbrunn which means Beautiful Spring. Their goal was to bring the Gospel to the Delaware Indians. Delaware Native Americans who converted to Christianity moved into Schoenbrunn to be a part of the Christian community. Within a year, the village grew so large, they started another settlement called Gnadenhutten.

Schoenbrunn, in many ways, was ahead of its time. The settlers of the village, including the Delaware, created their own code of conduct and opened a school. The school taught both boys and girls when other colonial schools at the time only accepted boys. The students learned to read both English and Lenape out of a Bible that was translated in the Lenape language.

The Moravians built a church there with paintings on the walls depicting Biblical scenes. They used these painting to teach about the Bible. They had church every morning and twice on Sunday. On special occasions they would have Lovefeasts where they served coffee, juice, and sweet buns. The Christmas Eve Lovefeasts were the most special and became the forerunner of Christmas Eve candlelight services popular in the US.

The settlement only lasted a few years. When the Revolutionary War broke out, British troops suspected the Moravians of giving information to the colonial army. These charges against them were true. In 1781, Native Americans supporting the British forced the Moravians to relocate to the Sandusky area to protect themselves from reprisals. The British arrested the two leaders of the villages, took them to Detroit, and tried them for treason.

When a group of Christian Lenape went back to Gnadenhutten to harvest their crops, a company of Continental military from Pennsylvania accused them of raiding farms in Pennsylvania. and massacred them. The militia the militia murdered and scalped 28 men, 29 women, and 39 children and burned down the village.

Settlers were outraged by the massacre, but the men were never brought to trial. In 1810, Tecumseh reminded future President William Henry Harrison, “You recall the time when the Jesus Indians of the Delawares lived near the Americans, and had confidence in their promises of friendship, and thought they were secure, yet the Americans murdered all the men, women, and children, even as they prayed to Jesus?”

Schoenbrunn Village is still open today for visitors and tourists to learn about Christian Native Americans and some of the earliest missionaries in America. A Christmas Promise was set in Schoenbrunn Village.

 

Christmas Fiction Spotlights with Authors Julie Lessman and Tamera Lynn Kraft

A Light in the Window

by Julie Lessman

One Woman. Two Men.

One stirs her pulse, the other her faith.

But who will win her heart?

Marceline Murphy, a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues, catches the eye of two of Boston’s most notorious. Patrick O’Connor and Sam O’Rourke are best friends with a bond like brothers … until they meet one woman neither can have.

Overseeing St. Mary’s Christmas play—A Light in the Window—Marcy wrestles with her attraction to both. But when disaster strikes, she’s destined to discover the play’s message firsthand. For although two men have professed their love, only one has responded to the light in the window.

A Christmas Promise

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape.

When John is called away two days before Christmas to help at another settlement, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day. When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

Christmas Spotlight with Authors Leeann Betts and Alexa Verde

In Search of Christmas Past

by Leeann Betts

Grace Bellows, a senior in college, receives a Christmas card one month after her grandmother’s death, where her beloved Grammie challenges her to an old-fashioned scavenger hunt. Raised by her grandmother after her parents’ death in a car accident when she was eight, Grace has lived a jetsetter lifestyle with her wealthy grandmother. Now all she wants is to settle down and have a normal life.

Luke Fisher manages his family’s Christmas tree farm out of a sense of loyalty to his deceased mother because she gave up her dreams of being an attorney. He doesn’t want to live with any regrets, and longs to escape the confines of loyalty to live a life of adventure in the real world.

Can Grace and Luke solve the clues in her grandmother’s scavenger hunt and uncover the truth about their real feelings, or will the tension and their differences in goals and faith drive them apart?

Season of Hope

by Alexa Verde

Kelly Young wants to heal after losing her husband and to raise her little girl the best she can in her hometown. But her new neighbor, former wide receiver Brandon Carmichael, seems to intend to demolish his fixer-upper and her hopes for peace and quiet. When he helps her to repair her home, keeps her flower shop business afloat, and makes her hope and love again, could it be that Brandon is exactly what she needs?
After a forced retirement, Brandon Carmichael is angry and lost, one step away from the familiar path of self-destruction. Moving to a small town at his friend’s suggestion, Brandon surprises himself by getting involved in its community and starting to fall for his pretty neighbor, single mom Kelly Young. But when his past collides with his present, can he forgive, love, and live fully again?

Christmas Fiction Spotlight with Pamela Thibodeaux and Joanie Bruce

Keri’s Christmas Wish

by Pamela Thibodeaux

For as long as she can remember, Keri Jackson has despised the hype and commercialism around Christmas so much she seldom enjoys the holiday. Will she get her wish and be free of the angst to truly enjoy Christmas this year?

A devout Christian at heart, Jeremy Hinton, a Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Spiritual Mentor and Energy Medicine Practitioner has studied all of the world’s religions and homeopathic healing modalities. But when a rare bacterial infection threatens the life of the woman he loves, will all of his faith and training be for naught?

Find out in Keri’s Christmas Wish

Holly, Ivy, & Intrigue

Christmas Murder Mix-Up by Joanie Bruce

“I have to get rid of her now.”

After four months of a blissful marriage, Paige is devastated to overhear her husband, Cooper, say those words to his best friend. Because of a suspicious Christmas gift, a gas leak, and a home invasion, Paige’s love for Cooper is tested to the limit. Will their marriage survive the Christmas Murder Mix-up?

Holiday Pursuit by Alexa Verde

When Brianna Rockwell’s brother finds himself in danger and disappears three days before Christmas, she does everything to rescue him. Brianna dodges bullets, escapes fire, and even turns to her longtime crush for help. But the closer she gets to solving the mystery and finding her only sibling, the more desperate someone gets to silence her forever…

A Holiday Intruder by Denise Weimer

Kelsey Jordan prefers upcycling junk and refinishing antiques for her store in a Georgia mountains town to being the center of attention. When a robbery and an unknown benefactor shove her in the middle of a decades-old mystery, and a real estate developer and a former baseball star compete for her attention, Kelsey isn’t sure who to trust.

Christmas Fiction Spotlights with Authors Jody Wolfe and Jenna Victoria

The Hope of Christmas

Picking a Bride for Paul

by Jodie Wolfe

When Teddy Love’s neighbor and best friend breaks his leg, she pitches in to do whatever she can to help him on his farm. But when he enlists her aid in finding a wife, she comes to realize she has feelings for him.

Paul Baker follows his mother’s wishes by looking for a bride from the East who is refined and genteel, two qualities Teddy isn’t. When his potential bride arrives, he finds himself comparing her to Teddy. How can he go back and change things before he makes the biggest mistake of his life?

War of the Heart

by Jenna Victoria

When a vintage snow globe sends Boston dress designer Louise Martin & British B&B owner George Walker back in time to London, December 1940, they race against the clock to reconcile a feud between their families and solve a 75-year-old mystery. As Louise relies on God; and on George for guidance, friendship then love, will the future George envisions strangle her own dreams? Will their love survive generations of mistrust, the Blitz and being stranded in wartime 1940, possibly never to return to their former lives?