Classic Pennsylvania Christmas Traditions
- Candles in the window - For hundreds of years candles have figured prominently as Christmas decorations. Martin Luther is credited as the first person to put candles on a tree (reflected in our modern electric Christmas lights), and in Ireland they would leave a candle lit in the window on Christmas Eve to “light the way for the Christ Child.” Candles in the window are a sign of welcome and hospitality, glowing with Christmas cheer for all to see.
- The Moravian Star - This beautiful 26-point star actually began as a geometry lesson, but it become so popular that is was adopted by the Moravian Church to represent the Star of Bethlehem. Today many people purchase or assemble their own Moravian stars to light up their homes and porches during the Advent season.
- The tree - What is Christmas without a tree? This tradition started among the Lutherans, with the first written account of a fully decorated Christmas tree dating back to 1605. Old World Germans decorated their trees with stars, angels, toys, candies, tinsel, and lighted candles.
- The “putz” - This Pennsylvania Dutch interpretation of the crèche may have originated as a way to help children appreciate the Christmas story. Centering on the birth of Christ, the putz depicts the traditional Nativity scene but may have additional scenes, such as the Annunciations, the shepherds in the hills, and the three kings. Today making the putz is often a family project.