Friday, November 30, 2007

A Flavor of Moravia


Not long ago my mother asked me how to spell my middle name.

Okay, now didn’t she give the name to me? I’ve always harbored a quiet suspicion that my parents sort of threw that name at me like you might throw spaghetti against a wall to see if it’s going to stick. When I was old enough to ask about it, they said it was Grandmommy’s maiden name and it was German. I spent decades thinking I had German blood until my aunt discovered the name is actually Moravian. Moravian. Ooh, now that has a ring to it. Moravia. My people are from Moravia. I hail from Moravia…

Just one question. Where the hell is Moravia?

A quick pass at some online research reveals that Moravia used to be its own principality in Europe but is now a region of Czechoslovakia. The pictures seem like a fairytale with quaint bridges, old-world spires and snow covered forests. I can’t tell if my ancestors were charming princes or gingerbread men. Apparently members of the Moravian Church ventured to the new world as missionaries and settled in strong numbers in Pennsylvania and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Wait a minute, I went to college in North Carolina and this sounds familiar. Old Salem… Christmastime… Moravian Spice Cookies.

I love these cookies! I thought ‘Moravian’ was a brand, like Keebler. (I’d rather be related to gingerbread men than elves.) But the Moravian Spice Cookie is an old European recipe popular during the holidays and famous for being the world’s thinnest cookie. I’m not sure how it differs from an everyday gingersnap but it just does. I would love to send Moravian cookies at Christmastime with a beautiful letterpress card weaving together my Moravian heritage with holiday blessings. This is something I absolutely would have done when I was young and married in my twenties. A real Martha Stewart moment. I’m not having many Martha moments these days, so I just ordered some cookies for myself at A Southern Season, one of my favorite gourmet retailers located in Chapel Hill. Now if you’re in my immediate group of friends and family, don’t you dare steal my idea. I fully intend to make them my signature gift, just not this year.

The cookie packaging is sleek and good looking. Good aesthetics, I knew I would like being Moravian. Our icon is this gorgeous multi-point star, appropriately named The Moravian Star. It began as a geometry project at a Moravian boys’ school in the 1830s and was quickly adopted by the Moravian Church as an Advent symbol. Even Domino Magazine features Moravian Star ornaments to illuminate and decorate for the holidays. I’ve already ordered several.

And when they arrive I am going to make a Christmas wish on my Moravian Star ornaments. I am going to wish that my family will cease and desist from any more genealogy research. Because with my luck they will discover we’ve been misspelling my name all along and take away my Moravian roots. Oh, but let’s not even speak of that. Everything about Moravia is just so magical. Elegant imagery. A spiritual symbol of the Christmas holiday. Paper thin spice cookies.

I am going to try to be more of all of those things in my daily life. More elegant. More spiritual. More thin.

More & More Moravian.


20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am hungry for those cookies right now and how beautiful the star is! So glad I went to web site for reading to see you've added pictures too, product and your own. Taking this media to the limit. Stories stick with me, the mix of humor and something poignant I connect too. Carol

meredith thomas said...

Christine,
Love the fact that you have discovered your Moravian heritage! having grown up in Winston-Salem I have had a Moravian Star over our doorstep every christmas, taken many trips to Old Salem and eaten many a cookie. And lets not forget to rave about their sugar cakes which are my all time favorite. They make great gifts too!
And one last thing. I've always known I loved you and now it all makes sense. We are probably distant relatives. My grandfather's family settled in Old Salem in the late 1700's straight from Moravia. Their name was, get this, "Boner". The Boner house is still on the historic tour of homes in Old Salem. Look it up and maybe we can somehow find out if the Boner family and The Bruener family were connected in any way. (did I spell it right??)
Love you and LOVE reading your blog. I will share with everyone in Winston-Salem!
Meredith (your old, old friend and newly discovered cousin!)
Winston-Salem, NC

Christine said...

heavens meredith! I had no idea you had a little 'Boner' in you. (who knew genealogy could sound so naughty?)

sorry to say, but you misspelled my name too. it's not 'Breuner.' and my mother came up with a different iteration. I think we should have a contest. The first person to spell my middle name correctly wins!

clearly the people who have known me for over 18 years have no advantage what-so-ever

[thanks to everyone for all the fun comments/emails...]

UNCLonghorn said...

BRUNER (I win!)

By the way, didn't the Moravians invent Krispy Kreme?

Ashley

Christine said...

congrats ashley!! BRUNER it is

you just won yourself a half-eaten tin of moravian cookies

is it true? are my people responsible for krispy kremes?

that would just be too delicious

Peter Chen said...

Hi Christine,

Thanks for leaving a comment in my post Uploading and manipulating pictures in Google Blogger. I have responded to your comment.

Peter Blog*Star
Blogger for Dummies

Nascar and the Canadian Curmudgeon said...

and all this time I thought Moravia was a rock band from Liberal Kansas....any cookies left..?....:):):)

Natural Woman said...

lol, that's funny. your mom asking you that. well did it stick? lol.

hey i wanted those cookies....

Bruner. There!

Christine said...

someday I will get my gift list in order and there will be moravian spice cookies for everyone!!...

Tot's Mom said...

I have subscribed to your feed at Blog Catalog. Since I have done so, I figured I might as well pop over here to take a look.
Yes, where is Moravia? I think I will have a hard time looking for the place on a world map. But your post is certainly funny. Had me giggling somehow.

Renae Brumbaugh said...

Moravian! Sounds so exotic! Sounds so elegant, so spiritual, so thin! ;-)

Great post. I, myself, am Heinz 57. A little German, a little Irish, a little American Indian, and who the heck knows what else? So, you are blessed to have a specific heritage to explore.

My heritage includes preachers and outlaws. :-)

Blessings!

Renae

Angelika said...

My mother gave us ALL screwed up middle names.

I finally grew into my first name. After 20 years...

Margaret said...

Christine you probably do have German ancestry rather than Czech Republic ancestors. Most of the "Moravians" who settled in Bethelehem and Winston Salem were German converts with a few from the Baltic states and England. The Roman Catholics had pretty well killed or run off all the Protestant "heretics" in Moravia and the rest of eastern Europe after the 30 years war.

courtney said...

as i am a baptized member of the Home Moravian Church in winston-salem, I feel so priveliged to know and love you!! and i would have gotten Bruner had I been online...drat. You have to go to a lovefeast (the Moravian Christmas service - great name - i can teach you lovefeast hymns) and eat buns and drink the only coffee I can drink without Bailey's...anytime you want to go...let me know - xo - courtney

courtney said...

and re: krispy kreme - the family there was the livengoods - a very home moravian chuch family...hmmm - no wonder we love them so. moravian = krispy kreme. i can see that! court

Rachel said...

Everyone needs some Christmas Magic! Congrats on a fun fairytale search and the results!! The cookies sound awesome!!

Truly enjoying your page.

Lisa McGlaun said...

It's so much fin discovering your ancestory. I have some Scottish and Danish. The rest is just plain ole Southern. No one on my mother's side of the family seemed to care about where they came from. I guess they just sprang out of the Tennessee soil.

Great Post. Glad I found your blog.

Lisa

Juraj Svajdlenka said...

Hi Christine I am from Slovakia. Slovakia has boundaries with Czech republic. And Moravia is part of Czech republic.

Joeprah said...

I am 50% Czech and the town my grandfather came from doesn't go by the same name. I am sure it is findable for an expert...not me...my Grandma can from very close Prague. You ever eat poppyseed cake? Huge with our family.

BuzzeeDad said...

BuzzeeDad here, just poking around your archives. I'm a very trivial person. Wait, not trivial... trivia filled? Anyway, there are few things in this world that I know nothing about. Moravia was totally new to me. You've helped me justify my buzzed blog hopping night by making me that much smarter.