Moravian Star

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Herrnhuter Sterne at the 571st  Dresden Striezelmarkt
A half-finished Moravian star
Assembly of a small Moravian star

The Moravian Star is an illuminated Advent or Christmas star of a certain geometric design, which symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem . The Moravian Brethren is the namesake, traditional manufacturer and owner of the word mark .


The star is named after the Moravian Brethren, which has its headquarters in Herrnhut in Upper Lusatia , a place founded by the descendants of the Moravian Evangelical Brethren on June 17, 1722. There religious refugees from Bohemia and Moravia found refuge. In 1727 they founded the Renewed Brothers Unity to establish a new Christian community.

Missionary work began five years later , while her children went to boarding schools , for example the boys 'and girls' institution in the Kleinwelka colony or the pedagogy in Niesky . This is where the first Moravian stars were created. When the local university boys' institution celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1821 , an illuminated star with 110 points was floating in the courtyard. It also did not hang during Advent, because the anniversary celebration took place from January 4th to 6th, i.e. for the Epiphany . While other churches displayed nativity scenes, this Star of Bethlehem fitted into the simple, white halls of the Brethren. Later, the star was also tinkered in the boarding schools in Neuwied , Königsfeld in the Black Forest and Kleinwelka and hung up for the first time in Advent. The first stars were white and red - white for purity and red for the blood of Jesus Christ.

Headquarters in Herrnhut

In 1897 the businessman Pieter Hendrik Verbeek invented the first model that could be put together and disassembled and thus also shipped. It consisted of a stable paper star with 25 points, the interior of which consisted of a sheet metal body with rails. 17 square and eight triangular points could be pushed onto it. An open square was used to illuminate the star with a kerosene lamp or with the help of electric light. Verbeek applied for a patent for his invention, the Moravian transparent poinsettia . He then concluded with the Moravian Church a contract founded a paper goods and cardboard factory where the manufactory even manufacture and sale of original Moravian star took place. There were two sizes with five colors to choose from: white, red, yellow, green or blue. The version with 25 points, which is particularly suitable for industrial production, was supplied by Sterngesellschaft mbH in Herrnhut from the 1920s . Verbeeck had meanwhile improved the construction, so that from 1925 the prongs could be connected directly to one another. Instead of metal frames, cardboard frames were now used, which made transport even easier. He also expanded the range to include a red star with bright tips.

In the GDR, the company was nationalized and the VEB Oberlausitzer Stern- und Lampenschirmfabrik continued production in 1956 under the conditions of socialism with state-determined framework conditions. But the originally Christian message, reports Bettina Vaupel from the German Foundation for Monument Protection, “did not really fit into the state's range of goods”. In 1968 it was transferred back to the Brothers Unity. From then on, production took place in a company that actually manufactured electrical system accessories. 90 percent of the stars produced in the GDR were sold abroad for foreign currency.

After the fall of the Wall , the Herrnhuter Sterne GmbH was founded , with 60 employees offering a range of over 60 different stars and accessories for lighting. The company is supported by several workshops for the disabled in the region, from which 30 people deliver simple components. The production volume amounts to approx. 600,000 pieces per year (as of December 2016). At the beginning of May 2011, Herrnhuter Sterne GmbH inaugurated its new manufactory in Herrnhut.

In many mission places of the Moravian Brethren such as in Genadendal and Elim in South Africa or in Jinotega in Nicaragua, Moravian stars are still made by hand for decoration during Advent. In the English-speaking world, the star is known as the Moravian Star .

In many churches , not just Protestant, there are one or more Moravian stars, some of which are from the early days of production and are up to 80 years old. Many evangelical congregations bought the stars to support the Moravian Brethren and to promote their missionary work.

Appearance and types

Moravian stars are mathematical star bodies that consist of a rhombic cuboctahedron as a basic body with attached pyramids . The commercial star lacks the top prong that would make it the real star body - that's where the suspension is attached.

The star is purchased disassembled. The Moravian Advent and Poinsettia Star consists of a (small) diamond cuboctahedron with 26 faces, 17 square and eight triangular points. The package also contains mounting brackets , a suspension bar and two spare prongs.

There are Herrnhuter stars made of paper and plastic as well as a chain of lights with ten small plastic stars. Paper stars for indoor use are available in diameters of 13 cm (limited annually, each with a different color), 40 cm, 60 cm, 70 cm and 80 cm. The plastic star, also for outdoor use, is available in the diameters 8 cm (miniature star), 13 cm, 40 cm, 68 cm and 130 cm.

Stars with a diameter of 1.90 meters are regularly produced as custom-made products for churches and public buildings. Larger specimens with a diameter of 2.50 m are very rare - only six stars of this size are in use worldwide. They adorn the manufacturing factory in Herrnhut, the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, the Stadium of the Ice Lions in Dresden, the Berlin Cathedral, the Intercontinental Hotel Düsseldorf and, new for Christmas 2019, the Matthäuskirche in Munich .


  • Dorothee Theile: … and shines all over the world . The Moravian Star and its history. 1st edition. Comenius-Buchhandlung, Herrnhut 2008, ISBN 978-3-9812139-1-1 (80 pages).
  • Christine Lost: Learning from the stars. On the history of "Froebelstern" and "Herrnhuter Stern". In: Pedagogical Forum 30/6 (2002), pp. 414-418.
  • Bettina Vaupel: Light and Joy in Every House - The Long History of the Moravian Stars , In: Monuments , Edition 6/2019, pp. 66–73

Web links

Commons : Herrnhuter Stern  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ German Patent and Trademark Office: Word mark: Herrnhuter Stern .
  2. Lydia Schubert: From Herrnhut into the world - The story of a poinsettia ,, article from December 6, 2018.
  3. ^ A b Miriam Schönbach: Jagged ambassadors from Saxony: Moravian stars are export hits . In: Leipziger Volkszeitung . No. 296 , December 20, 2016, p. 5 .
  4. Ines Igney: Moravian stars are moving. Saxon newspaper (Pirna edition) from 7./8. May 2011.
  5. Anja Beutler: Herrnhuts Riesenstern brightens Munich ,, article from December 16, 2019.