One of the most familiar and beloved Moravian traditions is the Christmas Eve Candle Lovefeast, during which lit candles are distributed to the congregation during the antiphonal singing of Morning Star. The service closes with all the congregation lifting the lit candles high during the singing of the final hymn.
The candles are handmade from beeswax and wrapped with a special red ruffle. They are distributed to the congregation by the dieners (a German word simply meaning “server”) during the singing of traditional Christmas hymns.
The tradition began in 1747, during a period when Count Zinzendorf, a German noble who was the leader of the 18th century Moravian Church, had been exiled from his home in Saxony. A group of Moravians, called the “pilgrim congregation” had accompanied the Count in his exile, while most of the brothers and sisters continued to live in Herrnhut. Zinzendorf and the pilgrim congregation were living in an abandoned castle in Marienborn, Germany.