the old salem candle tea is a standard christmas tradition around these parts. nevermind that last year was the first year i had ever attended in the 16 or so years that i’ve lived here-ish.
when we went last year, we were on our own, and had an early tour time and just drove into the parking lot nearest to the building we would be going to. this time, we were meeting up with the wild + free homeschool group, and were instructed to meet in the parking lot near the visitor center. this meant, we would walk across the super cool covered bridge, adorned with moravian stars for the holidays, as we made our way to the tour. obviously, we HAD to have a photoshoot.
so basically, the “candle tea” is a tour of the old brothers house, in the historic moravian settlement of old salem. the candle part of the tour comes in the first room, where a long table has been set up, and volunteers are making moravian candles, to be used in the moravian church’s christmas love feast. we learned about some of the history of the love feast, the logistics of the candle making for the current size of the moravian congregations, and then watched as they walked us through the process of making the candles.
the second part of the tour takes you to what would have been the kitchen. we learned about how the single brothers would have lived in the 1700s(?)/a long time ago. how much food they had to make, where the ingredients came from, who would have manned the kitchen, etc. but mostly all anyone cared about was that we got to have a free moravian sugar cookie.
then, it was downstairs, to the putz, which is just a weird word for giant diorama. it’s set up every year in what would have been the underground food storage area. it’s cooler down there, and i guess refrigeration technology was a long way off. anyways. some maybe-current moravian residents of old salem have custom built this to-scale replica of old salem, down to some of the most minute details. our guide gave us some more history of the people and the area, and then we moved on (before any of our “wild and free” kids fell over the wall trying to get a closer peek).
the last stop on the tour is a little tiny room, where someone has built another diorama of the story of jesus’s birth. our guide read a very condensed version from the bible, while a spotlight highlighted the various set locations. at this point, i’ll be honest, our group was struggling to hold it together, which i guess is to be expected from a group called wild and free, but sort of mortifying, because the ladies of old salem aren’t really of the wild and free variety.
when the tour was over, we went back to the visitor center with our crew, where the kids ran around in the picnic area and we all had lunch. my posse stopped into the gift shop to buy some new moravian candles for our the candle holder that derek built a few years back. those tissue paper decorations and the melty beeswax don’t do so well in storage. quite a racket that moravian church has going. 🙂