St. Nick at Old Salem
- When you and your child (Guardian & Child) purchase your tickets to explore the historic district, you can visit St. Nick’s workshop, tell him what you want for Christmas and snap a photo!
- NOTE: There will not be a photographer.
- Every “Salem Saturday at Christmas” (9:30 AM-4:30PM) & at the “Salem Night:Softly the Night is Sleeping” (1:00-7:00PM)
A little stocking pinned to the chimney-shelf…a spray of evergreen stood in a box, blossoming with toys…whatever it is, it makes Christmas real, as the Christ-child or Kris Kringle and Santa Claus are real. The Moravian, 30 December 1869
- Although the tradition of Santa Claus is an American ideal it evolved from the centuries old tradition of a Christmas gift-giver known by different names in different parts of the world. Perhaps the most recognized is St. Nicholas, a saint who became known as the patron saint of children. St. Nicholas is thought to have thrown gold through the windows of poor children at night. The gold is said to have landed in stockings hung by the fire to dry.
- In the 17th century German protestants chose a representative of the Christ child (Christkindl) as the gift giver. In America, the name eventually evolved into Kriss Kringle and finally into Santa Claus.
- The exchanging of small gifts at Christmas is well documented in the Moravian records. For example, In 1828 the Single Sisters recorded that they spent $37.00 on Christmas Gifts.
Our decoration [of the Putz] and especially the small pictures of Jesus’ birth …gave occasion for pleasant conversation, Anna Rosina and John John Gambold, Moravian Mission in Springplace, Georgia, to Jacob Van Vleck, Salem, North Carolina, January 4, 1814
- Christmas has always been an important time of celebration and fellowship in the Moravian Church. One traditional decoration enjoyed by Moravians was the Putz or Christmas village. Often the focus of the Putz was the nativity, but other displays included elaborate miniature landscapes created with small handmade buildings, moss, rocks, fences, animals, and people. Members of the Salem community—especially children—would travel from house to house to see the Putz in each household.
- Simply decorated evergreen trees, pyramids, Moravian stars (also called the star of Bethlehem), and watercolor pictures of the manger scene called illuminations reminded Moravians of the meaning of Christmas. Christmas Eve lovefeasts where each person received a lighted candle wrapped with a red ribbon to remind them of the redemptive love of Jesus Christ further emphasized the spiritual importance of the season.