The Christmas Putz
Among the many traditions of the Moravian Church, one of the most unique is the Christmas Putz. Many people may be under the impression that the putz is simply another manger scene or creche which one frequently sees during the Christmas season. Such an impression is an over simplification and is not strictly accurate.
A Putz is more than just a manger scene or creche. It is a more elaborate presentation of the Nativity story which was developed many years ago to help children gain a better and more vivid appreciation of the story of Christmas. Thus it was an early effort on the part of the Moravians to use audio-visual techniques of teaching.
Whether they are young or old, one who views a Putz finds new meaning in a story they may have heard countless times. In the hustle of the holiday season a pause to reflect upon the central event of Christmas with the help of a Putz is like a breath of fresh air which allows the true spirit of Christmas to enter anew into one's heart and soul. In addition, those who build a Putz find, in the fellowship together and in their creative expression, a true sense of participation in the work of the Lord.
The word Putz itself reveals something of its special character. It comes from the German verb (PUTZEN) which means in this context "to decorate or adorn" a church or home. From the very beginning the Putz was made from stumps, moss, greens, rocks, paper and figures. Now the artful use of electricity, music and narration have added new dimensions and effectiveness to the Christmas Putz. Always one central theme remains - the birth of Christ.