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The author of fourteen contemporary and historical novels, Melanie Dobson lives with her family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Her latest novels are Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor and Chateau of Secrets. More info at www.melaniedobson.com

Monday, October 03, 2011

Christmas Journey to Nazareth

The windows in Nazareth, Pennsylvania make the entire village glow during Christmas, each one lit with a solitary candle that beckons visitors inside, out of the snow. Pine wreaths wrapped in ribbons decorate painted doors. White stars adorn wooden and stone homes alike and twinkling lights color the evergreen that towers on Center Square.

I spent several days last December in this magical village researching for Love Finds You in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. The citizens of Nazareth embrace Christmas with quiet charm, and in the midst of the décor and festivities, there is the constant reminder of the child who initiated this season, of the boy who lived an ocean away and almost two thousand years past in another village called Nazareth.

Pennsylvania’s Nazareth is an eclectic mixture of both old and new. Colonial and contemporary. A gray stone hall, built in 1744 by the Moravians (Unity of the Brethren), anchors the east side of town, and sprinkled throughout the village are grand Victorian residences beside smaller clapboard homes.

I spent hours in this stone building, now named the Whitefield House, as I read journals from the 1700s. What a delight it was to find records of my ancestor Maria Beroth in these journals as well as information about my great (to the fifth) grandparent’s marriage in Bethlehem in 1758.

During my stay in Nazareth, I took a candlelight tour late one night and walked across the plaza below the grand manor built for Count Zinzendorf in the 1750s. During the day, I explored the quiet hillside above town where the first Moravian brothers and sisters were buried. From the Indian Tower, I could see miles and miles of hills, farmland, and forest. Before I left Nazareth, I drove to the Pocono Mountains just north of the village to experience just a small taste of how hard it would have been to be a Moravian missionary to the Indians, filled with both awe and fear as they traveled by foot across these mountains to visit the various settlements.

Six thousand people now make Nazareth their home. While there are a variety of denominations and faiths represented among the residents, Moravian tradition is still embedded in the culture of Nazareth. And the history of the Moravian people—the heritage of my ancestors—is threaded through the heart of the town.




6 Comments:

Blogger kvsmm said...

On my mother's side, everyone was Amish or Mennonite when they all came to America around 1710. Now, most of that part of our family is dead, but my mother's brother, who is in his 80's, has started attending a Moravian congregation near his home in Cresco, PA - up in the Pocono Mountains. He says their ways are very familiar to him - that they seem a lot like his Plain roots in Lancaster County, Pa. I would love to read your new book.

3:36 AM  
Blogger Sandra B said...

I can think of no better gift than to receive a copy of your latest book. I have made it a habit of reading each of your books as they come out. Here's hoping I win.

Sandra Bever

10:13 AM  
Anonymous peggy knecht said...

I'm reading your book "Love finds you in Nazareth Pennsylvania", and I noticed the picture of the log cabin on the back cover. It looks like the one my great-grandfather built, for someone else, in Nazareth. My great grandmother's name was Sarah L. Neuman Knecht.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Melanie Dobson said...

Thanks so much for your notes! Peggy, that's neat that your great-grandfather built one of the cabins in Nazareth. The cabin on the back cover was the oldest one in Nazareth, right by the Whitefield house.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruce Watson said...
Love the pictures as they are a trip down memory lane since I grew up in Bethlehem and we frequently made the trip up to Nazareth to spend the day. I cannot begin to imagine how many picnic lunches were spent along the old roads linking those two cities and the ones over to Quakertown and Emmaus. Need to call my parents and thank them again for a great childhood. . .

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for finally writing about > "Christmas Journey to Nazareth" < Loved it!

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1:06 PM  

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