I had meant to write about the beauty of Moravian stars found in my community.
That is, until, my daughter decided to pour blue slime down the inside of my Moravian star, necessitating a disassembly and clean out.
In some ways, my daughter’s behavior is reminiscent of the reading from Isaiah in this Sunday’s scripture “You, O Lord, are our Father; we are the clay, and You are the potter: we are all the work of Your hands.” (Isaiah 63:16-17, 19; 64:2-7). This was the work of her hands as imperfect as it is and it is my job as a parent to put it back together again. Just as God is the parent, who shapes our lives, as disassembled and broken as they may seem.
Now it looks like a modern art exhibit. Slime, so that you know, can be dissolved in vinegar. Since the cleaning, the star looks better than before. (I will not say that this took two hours to clean out and my husband had to use advanced military interrogation techniques to get her to confess).
Moravian stars can be found all over the world and we see them year round here in Bethlehem. Typically they grace front porches or front windows but they can be hung anywhere.
The star dates to December 1820 when Christian Madsen, a student at a boarding school in Niesky, Germany, constructed a multi-colored star of 110 points as a Christmas decoration, according to the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem.
When the school celebrated its 50th anniversary the week after Christmas, it was decided to include Madsen’s impressive creation in the festive decorations. The star eventually was incorporated into math lessons, where students would make shapes out of paper, including pyramids that they glued together to form stars.
By the end of the 19th century, the stars found their way into Moravian homes and churches, with the first Advent star appearing in the Herrnhut church in 1891.
In 1897, Pieter Hendrik Verbeek began production of the stars (comprising points attached to a metal frame), eventually registering a patent for the 25-point model in 1925. I’ve seen them made of everything from glass to waxed paper and in a variety of colors although the most popular is white or clear. Here are some views around town.
If you want to follow along with the scripture readings from the Vatican for the first Sunday in Advent, you can find them here.
I will be posting something about the Advent season for the next four weeks in a mini series that focuses on the liturgical readings of Advent and our Pennsylvanian Christmas traditions.