About 15 years ago, I visited Bethlehem, PA. It is a quaint and beautiful town originally established by a group of Moravians in 1741. The Moravians were the first organized protestant denomination in the world. I loved the architecture and the streets and felt like I was back in a European town. I also began to notice unique multi-pointed star shapes in lamps and decorations all over town. In one of the shops I found out they were Moravian stars.
The Moravian star originated in Saxony, Germany, in the two towns of Niesky and Kleinwalka in the 1830s. The stars were used as craft projects to help demonstrate geometry lessons to young boys attending Moravian school. The stars were quickly adopted by the Moravian Church as a symbol of the birth of Jesus and represented the star of Bethlehem. Traditionally, the star is hung the first Sunday of Advent and remains up until Epiphany, January 6, or the time of the coming of the Magi. (More history of the Moravian star.)
Traditionally the Moravian star has 26 points but there are many variations and they can be found with any where from 6 to 100 points. Just type “Moravian star images” into your web browser to see all of the variations of the Moravian star.
I found a small kit to purchase with instructions and paper strips to make paper Moravian stars. Once I learned how to make them, I was cutting my own strips of paper and ended up making over 4 dozen little stars which have adorned my Christmas tree every year since then. I store them in a plastic shoe box size container to help keep them from getting squashed in storage.
If you would like to try your hand at making some Moravian stars, the supplies are simple. You need 4 paper strips cut 12″ X 1/2″. I used regular copy paper that was 8.5″X14″ and cut 2 inches off the long end so I would have 12″ paper. The stars can be made in different sizes as long as the strips are cut in a 1:24 ratio. I am not going to give you instructions because you can go to this website for detailed instructions with pictures. But I will share a couple of helpful hints.
First, make sure your strips of paper are the same width and cut straight. Even slight variations will make it hard to pull the strips through the various folds.
Second, when you make the first fold, do not fold strips exactly in half. Rather fold them so that one side is approximately 3/4″ longer than the other side. Then when you start the basket weave in the second step, make sure that the longer side of each strip is face up. See picture below.
If you fold the strips exactly in half, one side of your star will have shorter strips of paper to work with on the final step. It’s not impossible to do it, but it makes it so much easier if you fold with one side 3/4″ longer. In the picture below, the star on the left was made with strips folded exactly in half and the star on the right folded with one side longer than the other. As you can see, the star on the left has very little strip to pull through the folds on four of the points. The ends of your paper strips are trimmed off when the star is completed. There is no need to glue anything as it all stays together.
In the picture with the blue strips of paper, I tried making a star with two sided card stock weight paper. You can do it, but I don’t recommend it. It doesn’t pull through as easily and seems to tear easily as well. However, regular weight paper that is printed on both sides would work nicely. Scrapbooking paper comes in 12″ square sheets. Here is how the card stock star turned out (one star- front and back sides).Stiff decorating ribbon can also be used to make Moravian stars. The ribbon is slippery and curly though so I would not try to use ribbon until you have practiced on paper a while first to get the hang of it.Remember, these stars were originally used to help young boys learn geometry, so let your kids or grandkids give it a try as well. I taught several elementary age kids how to make them at the time I first learned. Have fun making Moravian stars for your Christmas tree!