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.