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North Carolina Newspapers

The Salemite. volume (None) 1920-current, December 08, 1978, Image 1

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TH€ S/1L€MIT€ Volume LXI Salem College, Winston-Salem, N.C., Friday, Decembers, 1978 Numbers Christmas in Old Salem by Missy Littleton Photos courtesy of Old Salem Restoration, Inc. As the weather begins to turn frosty cold, stores fill their windows with gifts and decorations, green wreaths appear on doors and decorated trees are placed in windows. Santa and his elves come out of hiding and we see Rudolph’s red nose shining once again. The Christmas season is definitely here and as we watch Old Salem being decorated, we may wonder how the Moravians prepared for and celebrated Christmas long ago. This information is easily gathered at Old Salem, Inc. In general, the Christmas custom of the 18th century American Moravians reflected their German heritage. These customs were expressed through the practices of their church. On December 24, Christmas Eve, a children’s Love Feast commenced at about 5 or 6 p.m. This service consisted of Scriptures and music related to Christ’s birth. The songs and passages were delivered on a level the children would understand. They were asked simple questions concerning the birth and life of Christ. Then each child received gifts, usually an apple, a piece of ginger cake and a colorfully written Christmas verse. Finally, each child was ■given a lighted candle with a red ribbon tied around it. They would walk home through the darkened town with the candle still burning. The tradition of the Children’s Lovefeast dates back to 1747 when Johannes Vor Watteville, a young Moravian minister living in Germany met with the children of his congregation to tell the Christmas storyAs a reminder of what he had told, he gave the children a lighted candle tied with the red ribbon. The f'ame was symbolic of Ch."ist’s love and the red was suggestive of the cost Christ paid for their redemption. Today the candle represents the light that came into the world with Christ’s birth. Apparently the 18th century Moravians had not adopted the customs of decorating the Christmas tree as we know it today. But there are references made to the German tradition of building wooden pyramids decorated with cookies, f 'uit candles and greenery. Surrounding the pyramids were pictures, Cont'd. on four Moravian hand rings in Christmas cheer. (See related story p. 4)

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