Moravian Christmas Traditions

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

Available at these online stores:

A Moravian Christmas in 1773

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

A Moravian Christmas in 1773

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

img_1022In the wilderness of Ohio in 1773, a small band of missionaries and Lenape Indians celebrated Christmas at Schoenbrunn Village, the first settlement in Ohio. They’d come to this wilderness and started the village a year earlier to preach the Gospel to the Lenape, also known as the Deleware.

The missionaries, both white and native families moved from a town in Pennsylvania called Bethlehem. Moravians had come to Bethlehem years earlier when a preacher named John Wesley had donated the land to them. But the Lenape had been forced west as more white men had moved into the area, so the Moravians decided to move west with them.

Life was hard in Schoenbrunn. Cabins were quickly made and community gardens were planted that included beans, corn, and squash. Most villages also planted potatoes and turnips next to their cabins. The rest of their food came from hunting. But the real danger came from the many Indian tribes surrounding the village, some of them hostile.

img_1023They didn’t have time to build a fence to keep out varments and the first Ohio church until Spring, 1773, but they did manage to build a school, the first built in Ohio. The school taught both boys and girls, a first for the colonies, how to read the Scripture in their native language and in English. The Moravians printed a Bible in the Lenape language.

The village council was led by David Zeisberger and including white Moravians and Lenape converts. The rules for the village were established by the Lenape Christians. These missionaries did not consider the native converts to be beneath them but instead brothers in Christ.

vector-christmas-candle_f1gwjyl__lAfter a year and a half in Schoenbrunn, the villagers were excited to celebrate their first Christmas. They had many traditions that we still use today. They would have a candlelight Christmas Eve service called a Lovefeast. During this service, they sang Christmas hymns, shared sweet rolls and coffee together, and prayed for each other. The service concluded when they gave each child a bleached beeswax candle and a scripture to hang on their trees at home. The white candle symbolized the purity of Christ and the flame showed that Jesus is the light of the world. A red ribbon would be wrapped around the candle to symbolize how Jesus shed His blood for a lost world.

schoenbrunn-cabinIn every home in Schoenbrunn, families decorated artificial Christmas trees with candles and papers with scriptures written on them. The trees were made by putting together a wood frame and decorating it with real pine branches. The family would also make a putz, a nativity village that included the nativity scene, the wise men, and other Biblical scenes and place it under the tree. Most Moravians gave small gifts at Christmas, but resources were so limited that the children in Schoenbrunn were happy with their candles they received at the church. After a Christmas feast, the family would read the verses hung on the tree and talk about God’s blessings at Christmas.

Schoenbrunn Village has been restored and is open to tourists. Find out more at this link (http://www.ohiosfirstvillage.com) .

 

10 Quotes from Great Awakening Preachers

featherThe United States of America was born out of the Great Awakening that took place in the 1700s. Men like the John and Charles Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield preached as America turned to God. Revivals and Awakenings have happened a number of times sense then. America is at a crossroads. It needs another Great Awakening like never before. Here are 10 quotes from some of the preachers of that first revival in America.

“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.” — George Whitefield

“The care of the soul is ‘a matter of the highest importance;’ beyond anything which can be brought into comparison with it.” — George Whitefield

“If you are going to walk with Jesus Christ, you are going to be opposed … In our days, to be a true Christian is really to become a scandal.” — George Whitefield

“God’s purpose for my life was that I have a passion for God’s glory and that I have a passion for my joy in that glory, and that these two are one passion.” — Jonathan Edwards

“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” — Jonathan Edwards

“Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life.” — Jonathan Edwards

“To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here.” — Jonathan Edwards

“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth. — John Wesley

“Catch on fire, and people will come for miles to see you burn.” — John Wesley

“Once more, Never think that you can live to God by your own power or strength; but always look to and rely on him for assistance, yea, for all strength and grace.” — David Brainerd

Welcoming Author Susan Page! She’s Giving Away a Book!

by Carole Brown

It’s a privilege to welcome wonderful author Susan Page today to Word Sharpeners. I’m delighted to introduce all of you to her and her books. Susan . . .

My inspiration for River Rest came easily—from a journal left by my great-aunt Belle, my River Rest orchard finalgrandmother’s sister. She described life in rural Central Maine in the 1920s and 1930s so well that as I perused her diary I felt lifted back in time.

For my novel, I created new characters, Judith and Ben, and I let them live out a romance while experiencing some of the same things Aunt Belle and her family did.

Let me say right here that Judith is not Aunt Belle, and Ben is not Uncle Harry. I also moved the timeframe of my story back to 1918. Some of the things in my novel really happened, like the fire I describe, but not in that year. The flavor is what the journal gave me—the ice cutting, the quilting, the neighborliness, the apple picking, the bird feeder.

A few real, historical people are mentioned, but not many. Grover Cleveland Bergdoll is one. He was perhaps the most famous “slacker,” or draft dodger, as we would say, of all time. Judith’s sister is eager to write a news article about him, but Ben discourages her from doing this. It’s only a mention, but one of the interesting tidbits I gleaned while researching the time period I had chosen.

I also wrote as accurately I could about the army training camp set up in Lewiston, Maine, on the grounds of a girls’ school. My own grandfather went there for training in 1918, as did Judith’s brother in my book.

When writing historicals, I have the privilege of incorporating real events into them, blending them with the imaginary plot of the story. I am able to pick and choose what happenings I want to emphasize, and which ones hum quietly in the background.
Every American has an impression of the time at the end of World War I. I let the reader fill in most of that background with her own knowledge. I chose to make the flu epidemic important in the story, since that hit my own family that year. My grandfather caught it at the training camp, and his family suffered back home. But I don’t go into details about the peace treaty of the final battles. Instead, I focus on the daily lives of those on the home front.

River Rest is available in paperback and e-book. We’re giving away a copy this week, and the winner can choose the format. Just leave a comment below to enter the drawing. Be sure to include a way we can contact you, such as your e-mail address.

River Rest orchard final

 

ABOUT Susan’s book:

Judith Chadbourne gave up her teaching job after her mother’s death to help her father with her five siblings. But when her father sinks into deep depression and her brother Joel is drafted, the household chores and farm work may overwhelm her. Neighbor Ben Thayer offers to buy their farm, shocking Judith and angering her father. An outsider from New York, Ben seems rich and mysterious, but his heart aches from his own loss. Judith accidentally breaks the antique crystal Christmas ornament her mother loved. The splintering star echoes her family’s shattering. Ben’s efforts to help make Judith suspicious, but when Joel falls critically ill at the army camp, Ben’s concern may bring the beginnings of trust. Can love take Judith beyond the frozen Maine winter?

Find River Rest at:
Kindle: http://amzn.to/1RSspPI
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/river-rest-susan-page-davis/1123861871?ean=2940158420962
Paperback: http://amzn.to/1UHiaSZ

 

Susan Page Davis cropped

 

ABOUT Susan:

Susan Page Davis is the author of more than 60 novels and novellas in the historical romance, mystery, and suspense genres. She is the mother of six and grandmother of ten. A Maine native, she now lives in western Kentucky with her husband Jim. Visit her website at: www.susanpagedavis.com

 

 

Find me at:
Website: www.susanpagedavis.com
Twitter: @SusanPageDavis
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susanpagedavisauthor
History blog on the 23rd of each month: www.hhhistory.com
Thank you so much for joining me today, Susan!

We’re giving away a copy of RIVER’S REST this week, and the winner can choose the format. Just leave a comment below to enter the drawing. Be sure to include a way we can contact you, such as your e-mail address.

Readers, be sure to leave a comment and your email address for a chance to win Susan’s book!

 

Guest Author Kathleen Rouser Talks about The Search for the Original Novel (Book Giveaway)

Kathleen Rouser is giving away a copy of her novel, Rumors and Promises, in paperback or Kindle for someone who leaves a comment answering the questions at the end of this post. Drawing will be held next Thursday, July 7th. The winner will be announced in a comment and contacted by email.

Kathy 1Kathleen Rouser has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She desires to create characters who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives. She is a long time member in good standing of ACFW and a former board member of its Great Lakes Chapter. Kathleen has been published in anthologies, including the Amazon bestseller, Christmas Treasures, as well as in both print and online magazines. Her debut full-length novel, Rumors and Promises, was recently published by Heritage Beacon Fiction in April, 2016.

Previously a home-school mom of three, she has more recently been a college student and then a mild-mannered dental assistant for a time. Along with her sassy tail-less cat, she lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of 34 years, who not only listens to her stories, but also cooks for her.

You can find Kathleen online:

The Search for the Original Novel

by Kathleen Rouser

What do you think of as an ancient literature? Probably something like The Epic of Gilgamesh from Mesopotamia written over 3000 years ago or Homer’s Iliad and  Odyssey from ancient Greece written around the 9th century BC. These were epic tales in their own right, yet they’re considered poetry. But what about novels? And which one was the first novel? And who wrote it?

Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines a novel as a “an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events.”  There is some argument as to which novel is the first one ever written.

Kathy Callirhoe fragment from 2nd or 3rd centurySome might argue that Callirhoe, written by the Greek author Chariton, likely in the first century AD, is the oldest. As a rare surviving manuscript, Callirhoe is the only complete work of romantic prose dated to be from that time. It is a story of the love between Callirhoe, the extremely beautiful daughter of an heroic general, and the man who loves her, Chaereas. The lovers marry, but are separated due to jealousy, and torn apart by other events before they are brought back together in their happily ever after ending. Sounds like the original romance novel, doesn’t it? The problem is the unreliability of the only manuscript copy which dates back to the 14th century AD. Only fragments of the story, written on papryri,  exist that has survived since mid-first century AD.

Kathy Portrait of Murasaki Shikibu from 1600sMany scholars seem to concur upon the importance of The Tale of Genji, written around 1011 AD, and considered the world’s first “psychological” novel. The real name of the author is unknown, but the moniker ascribed to her is Murasaki Shikibu, a lady-in-waiting to the Empress Shoshi, at the Imperial Japanese court of the Heian period. Her actual identity may have been Fujiwara Takako, but women only had their nicknames recorded at that time, usually with reference to an influential male relative.

At the time Murasaki wrote, Chinese was the official language used in court. However, during that era a more feminine script emerged, often used for conveying feelings and thoughts. This newer Hiragana writing is what Murasaki used to pen her story.

The Tale of Genji, rather than follow a specific plot structure, follows the growth, or arc of the main character’s life and that of two of his descendents. It covers the life events and romances of a handsome emperor’s son, Hikaru Genji. All 54 chapters were written for the entertainment of the ladies of the Japanese court.

Kathleen Kuiper, an Encyclodaedia Brittanica editor, describes The Tale of Genji this way: “At its most basic, Genji is an absorbing introduction to the culture of the aristocracy in early Heian Japan, its forms of entertainment, its manner of dress, its daily life, and its moral code. The era is exquisitely re-created through the story of Genji, the handsome, sensitive, gifted courtier, an excellent lover, and a worthy friend.” http://bit.ly/28W6o8Y

The Tale of Genji certainly fulfills the Merriam-Webster definition of a novel as it weaves a tale of one man’s lengthy life journey, with the complexity of 400 characters and their emotions and situations as part of the singularly human experience.

This makes me wonder how many manuscripts have been buried through the ages which gave the writer pleasure in scribing their imaginative stories, but have been lost with the dusts of history. How many great novels haven’t been preserved? We can only wonder who truly wrote the world’s first novel.

As a teen with writing aspirations, I remember being inspired by the book, The Once and Future King, by T. H. White to read Le Morte D’Arthur, published sometime around 1485. It is considered to be one of the first novels written in English and based on the legends of King Arthur, translated from French

What about you? Is there an ancient book that has inspired you to become a better writer? Or follow a certain genre? Leave a comment answering these questions for a chance to win Rumors and Promises by Kathleen Rouser.

Kathy Rumors and Promises CoverRumors and Promises

Sophie Biddle is an heiress on the run. Worse, she has a two-year-old child in tow, an illegitimate daughter she tries to pass off as her little sister. Believing herself abandoned by family and God, Sophie is caught off guard when she meets a kind, but meddling and handsome minister at the local mercantile. Despite her dire straits, Sophie wants only acceptance—not special treatment from the reverend of anyone else.

Reverend Ian McCormick is determined to start anew in Stone Creek, Michigan, believing he has failed God and his former flock. He works harder than ever to forget his mistake, hoping to prove himself a pleasing servant to his new congregation and once again to God.

In spite of their attempts to stay romantically untangled, Sophie and Ian find themselves drawn closer through their mutual love of music and their love for the child, Caira. When rumors of her “scandalous” past surface, Ian must decide whether to stand by the lovely Sophie’s side, while Sophie must decide whether to confess the ruse she thought necessary. Will they accept God’s forgiveness and risk forging a future together? Or will they continue to go it alone?

Rumors and Promises is available at:

Amazon.com – http://tinyurl.com/jqmw93e

Barnes and Noble – http://tinyurl.com/hdus93p

Palm Sunday is a Deadly Time for Tornadoes

Palm Sunday is known for deadly outbreaks of tornadoes. There have been four major outbreaks since tornadoes in the 20th century alone. That’s why when I wrote Resurrection of Hope, I included the 1920 tornado outbreak. Here’s an info-graph I made of the Palm Sunday tornadoes.

Palm Sunday Tornados

Guest Author Nancy J. Farrier and Book Giveaway – Mexican Folklore

Nancy J. Farrier is giving away a copy of her novel, The Cowboy’s Bride. Instructions on how to enter the drawing are at the end of this post.

Nancy HeadshotBest-selling author, Nancy J. Farrier, loves to write about characters who live in the western United States. She lives in the Mojave Desert in Southern California, but often spends time in Arizona. She loves the rich history of the Southwest and Western States. When she isn’t writing, Nancy loves spending time with her family, riding her bicycle, hiking, reading and doing needlecraft of some sort. She is very active in her church, teaching the Women’s Bible study and playing the piano on the worship team. Nancy loves her rescue cats and also her daughter’s rescue dog, who loves to keep track of all the cats.

Mexican Folklore

by Nancy J. Farrier

Nancy 1Have you ever visited Tucson, Arizona? I used to live just north of there along the San Pedro River. Did you know the area from Tucson up to the Gila River wasn’t part of the land won from Mexico in the Mexican American War (1846-1848)? Nope, James Gadsden bought that land from Mexico for the United States in 1954, putting the Southern part of New Mexico and Arizona under the protection of the USA. I thought it might be interesting to take a brief look at the rich culture that came from Mexico.

Nancy 2Times and people don’t change all that much, so the men in those days loved to show off their superior skills. Many of the games involved feats of expert horsemanship. One such game, Las Sintas, or The Ribbons, thought to have been brought over by the Portuguese, involved brightly colored ribbons attached to a horizontal pole. The riders lined up on their fastest ponies. They would race in to retrieve a ribbon without breaking it and take the prize to the beautiful lady of their choice. This proved to be a challenge since the ribbons were securely fastened and the riders zipped along at top speed. If the ribbon tore, the rider would be disgraced.

Nancy 3Have you ever heard the expression, “Let the Cat Out of the Bag?” Well, the cat races were a literal version of the phrase, and so popular in some areas that when the drums began signaling the start of the races, people would run to get a good place to watch. There are even accounts of young children left behind to cry while their parents watched. The cats were kept in a bag, or gunny sack, while the field was readied. Markers were placed about 100 yards apart and wires were run in parallel lines. Short moveable wires were attached to the parallel lines and then to a collar around the cats neck. The cats were slowly “let out of the bag” and the race was on. No one went home until the last cat had finished the race and been bagged once again.

Nancy 4Mexican folklore is as fascinating as folktales or fairy tales from anywhere in the world. These stories were usually cautionary tales meant to teach young people morality or wisdom. Picture the children seated at the feet of their Nana as she tells the story of a young wayward girl we’ll call Rosa.

Rosa was a beautiful girl with long, black hair, and eyes that sparkled like stars. She worked very hard at home, but longed to go dancing. Sometimes her feet would tap a rhythm of their own as she thought of the handsome cowboys and the dances held in town. One night, Rosa sneaked from the house and made her way into town. Dancers whirled in bright colors and Rosa heart sang to join them. One handsome cowboy sauntered across the room and held out his hand to Rosa. He was the best looking man in the room and only had eyes for Rosa. They danced and danced. Rosa knew she should go home, but she thought, “One more dance. Only one more.” Before she knew it, the clock struck midnight. Rosa’s handsome cowboy whirled around, his feet became cloven hooves, and Rosa knew he was the devil. Too late, she knew she should have been home where she would be safe.

Nancy 5There are many Mexican stories and customs from the 1800’s that are fun and fascinating. I would love to have time to share more with you. I’d love to hear from you. Do you have a favorite Mexican food? Do you know any other tales or games to share? I would love to hear from you.

Nancy TCL+Book+CoverA Cowboy’s Bride

Crazy About Cait

Crazy About Cait is one of nine novellas in The Cowboy’s Bride. Cait Sullivan is furious when her father hires Jonas Hall to help her break their horses to sell to the U.S. Cavalry. Cait has never forgiven Jonas for breaking her sister’s heart. Jonas is hoping to have one last chance to win Cait’s favor. He doesn’t know how he will convince her to forgive him, but he trusts God. Will they be able to work together and overcome the odds to save Cait’s father’s ranch?

To enter the drawing to win a copy of A Cowboy’s Bride, please leave a comment answering one of these questions: Do you have a favorite Mexican food? Do you know any other tales or games to share? The winner will be announced in the comments of this post and will be emailed in one week on June 16th.