For many years, the Moravian Star has been a favorite decoration for the Advent and Christmas seasons. Whether set on top of Christmas trees or hung from porches/ While these unique multi-pointed stars are beautiful, they also have a rich history.
Moravian Stars originated in 19th C. Germany but have since spread across the world, where they're beloved by people of all backgrounds and cultures for their unique, timeless design.
Today, not just lighted holiday decorations, Moravian Stars can be hung from porches, trees or in the entryway of your home year-round.
String lights are great for their versatility, but lighted Moravian Stars are the type of decoration to truly make a statement. Moravian Stars can come in different colors, sizes, and assembly options. Some Moravian Stars fold flat for easy assembly, while other stars can easily be assembled with the classic “twist & lock” method.
Please read on to learn more about the fascinating story behind these beautiful shapes.
The Origin of the Moravian Star
According to the Moravian Church, the shape of the Moravian Star originated in Moravian boarding schools in Germany during the 19th century. The schools used Moravian Stars as an exercise in geometry. At the Moravian boarding school in Niesky, Germany, pupils practiced by making shapes from paper. The shape of an elongated pyramid inspired the geometry teacher and students to piece together the shapes and form a star. The stars were also seen as early as 1747 in the Moravian community of Herrnhag, Germany. The stars were then carried throughout the world by missionaries and were then introduced to other cultures, who took a liking to the design for its aesthetics.
The Moravian Star as a Decoration
The first account of a star made specifically for Christmas dates from 1867 when Hermann Bouquin, a former pupil at the German boarding school, made a star for his parents in Herrnhut. At that time, boys in the various Moravian boarding schools began decorating their rooms with stars during the Advent season. By the end of the nineteenth century, Moravian stars spread rapidly throughout the world. Families decorated their homes with stars, and it would not be long before the stars made their introduction into the churches. An Advent star was first displayed in the Herrnhut church on the first Sunday of Advent in 1891. The star then first became for sale around 1880, when Peter Verbeek, an alumnus of the school where the stars originated, began making the stars and selling them in his bookstore. While we are most familiar with the white star, the first star had alternating red and white points! The star has since become a symbol of the Moravian Church, and it is appropriately displayed from the first Sunday in Advent (the fourth Sunday before Christmas) until the Festival of Epiphany (January 6th).
The Symbolism of the Moravian Star
Today, not only Moravians appreciate the unique design of the Moravian Star. Every year, thousands of stars shine into the darkness, symbolizing our anticipation of the light of hope to enter the darkness. The stars are used to remind people of the Star of Bethlehem, and the light itself is seen as a “light of all the world”, according to the Moravian Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. In fact, the points symbolize light shining into all directions, uniting us in anticipation with other people in all parts of the world!
The Shape of the Moravian Star
While we may decorate with stars on our trees and mantels during the holiday, the Moravian Star has historically been comprised of 26 points and is multidimensional. In fact, the original Moravian Star manufactured in 1897 came in a 25-point form, composed of eighteen squares and seven triangular cone-shaped points. The 26th point is designed to be missing on purpose so that there can be a flat base used for mounting or hanging. Although the name of the shape has been colloquialized, the technical name of the traditional Moravian Star shape is an augmented rhombicuboctahedron. Today, the number of star points can range from 6 to over 100!
The Modern Moravian Stars
Today, Moravian Stars are commonly used as lighted holiday decorations. They can be hung from porches, set atop Christmas trees, and used both indoors and outdoors. Moravian Stars can come in a variety of sizes and colors. Large Moravian Stars are typically hung from porches, trees, or in the entryway of your home. We recommend grouping large Moravian Stars in clusters outdoors to take your holiday decorating up a notch. Smaller Moravian Stars can also be hung from porches and used as outdoor decor but are traditionally used as tree toppers.