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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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.

 

Welcome Ruth

by Carole BrownChristmas ebook cover

It’s wonderful to have Ruth here today sharing about her new devotional book and a bit about her life. Do check it out and leave a comment too! 

Enjoy the interview!

Welcome, Ruth! How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since I was nine years old. My first story, “The Hunchback Bug,” is now a writing tool for my students. Your first story doesn’t have to be good, but if you keep working at it, your writing will improve.

Wise advice. What made you want to write this Christmas devotional?

I had already written a lot of stories for children as well as a lot of devotions over the years. It seemed logical to combine them to create something unique for whole families to use during the Christmas season. I mentioned it to my friends and it became a project we worked on together.

What a fantastic project. Since this is a Christmas devotional, can you share a favorite Christmas memory?

Oh, goodness, there so many! I remember getting up super early with my siblings when I was a child. My parents would allow us to open our stockings, which was probably an effort to let them sleep a little longer, although I’m not sure how quiet we were.

Then there was the tree my husband cut down with our children one year. I’m not very good at spatial things and that tree looked a lot smaller outside. My husband had to cut a couple of feet off the bottom to fit it in the house, and the tree was so big around, it took up half of our living room. That was my favorite tree ever!

Fun!! I remember a couple times of “oversized, underbranched” beauties in our living room too! Lol. What made you want to be a writer?

That must’ve been God. I never struggled as a teenager with what I wanted to be when I grew up. I always knew I would write.

Me, too! Seems I’ve always loved writing. What are some of your other favorite things to do?

I enjoy quilting – that’s my thinking time. If I’m stuck on a writing project, I can go sew for a little while and then all of a sudden ideas start to come. I also enjoy being outdoors. As a family we enjoy hiking and camping.

Sisters blog (2)

In this picture of you, as a child, which one are you?

I’m the one on the right, the oldest. 

 

Family time is the best, and I do that too to energize my writing muse again. There’s a song for each day of the devotional. Do you have a favorite Christmas song?

There are so many beautiful ones. I’m not sure I have A favorite. I enjoy “Home for Christmas,” “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (the Steven Curtis Chapman version), “O Holy Night.” I could go on, but I won’t. Christmas songs just make me happy and help me focus on the reason for the celebration.

Where can we find you?

Blog – http://ruths-real-life.blogspot.com/

Website – http://ruthoneil.weebly.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RuthONeilAuthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/writerrutho

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Ruth-ONeil/e/B00AJ5S3YQ

Buy link for the book – https://www.amazon.com/Days-Christmas-Family-Devotional-Meaningful-ebook/dp/B01N1LTH26

Thank you for joining us today, Ruth!

Readers, don’t forget to check out Ruth’s links and her book!

 

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?