History of Herrnhuter stars

Herrnhut, Germany,

is a small town in the Upper Lusatia (Oberlausitz) region of Saxony (Sachsen), in Germany. In the 18th century, Herrnhut gave birth to the Moravian spiritual renewal and prayer/missions movement under Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760). It remains a haven for Christian pilgrims as well as being the world headquarters of the Moravian Church (Evangelische Brüdergemeine).

History of Herrnhuter stars
History of Herrnhuter stars

The origin of the Christmas Star

The Herrnhut Star, which originated over 160 years ago in the Renewed Moravian Church, is considered the source of all handmade Christmas stars. At the beginning of the 19th century, the first star made of paper and cardboard shone in the rooms of the boarding school of the Moravian Church. Constructed by a mathematics instructor in class, the star served as a communication tool to improve geometric comprehension. Since then, children have been crafting their stars on the first Sunday in Advent, thereby introducing this custom to their families.

Only original with 25 points

Over the course of the following years, P.H. Verbeek developed the construction further and founded the “Sterngesellschaft mbH”. In 1925, he registered a patent for the first frame-less Herrnhut Star. This model corresponds to the stars made today: 17 points with a square base, and 8 points with a triangular base. Since 1991, the company trades under the name “Herrnhuter Sterne GmbH”, and continues the tradition of producing the stars by hand.

History of Herrnhuter stars
History of Herrnhuter stars

The beginning of production

At the end of the 19th century, the businessman Pieter Hendrik Verbeek invented the first star with points attached to a metal frame. It could be assembled by sliding the paper points into the metal frame. This innovation made it possible to take the stars apart and ship it. The Herrnhut Mission Book Shop served as the first distributor.

Today, stars are everywhere in Germany during Advent. You see them in churches, in the streets, hanging in doorways and windows, and also in certain Christmas markets shining atop the tented roofs of the merchants’ stalls.

The Star Company is making 60 different stars in lots of colours and sizes and sending them all over the world.