Moravian Christmas in the South

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Old Salem Museums & Gardens, 2007 - Religion - 167 pages
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Many of the Christmas traditions that we know today did not appear in the United States until well into the nineteenth century. This inviting book explores the Christmas celebrations of the Moravian Church in the South, whose members were marking the holiday as early as the 1780s in ways recognizable to modern Americans. The Moravians' emphasis on a family-centered Christmas grew greatly through the nineteenth century and served as a model for social change in secular America.

The Moravian Church was one of the earliest Protestant religious groups in the United States. In 1752 the church bought 100,000 acres in Piedmont North Carolina, calling the tract "Wachovia" because the land reminded them of the Wachau valley of Austria. Christmas customs practiced by the Moravians reflect their Germanic roots, Nancy Smith Thomas explains.

This abundantly illustrated volume explores the many facets of traditional Moravian Christmas celebrations, including decorations (such as the idiosyncratic "Putz"), food and beverages, gifts, services, and music. Thomas discusses how these traditions evolved over time, within and outside the Moravian communities, as well as how certain non-Moravian Christmas traditions were incorporated into the Moravian customs.

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About the author (2007)

Nancy Smith Thomas is an independent scholar living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She has worked at Old Salem Museums & Gardens for eighteen years, focusing on Christmas interpretation and programming, and frequently presents lectures and workshops on Christmas decorations and traditions.

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