The ancient Germanic tribes would build a fire to welcome the home goddess Hertha into their homes for the winter soltice. evergreens came into adorn walls and other surfaces, bringing good aromas and splashes of colors. A large flat stone was placed in the home just for this time and branches would be burned there because it was believed the action would bless the home, bring good luck, and health over the cold days into the warm ones. People would walk through the smoke to help insure this would happen. These altar stones of Hertha would later become simply "hearth stones" and eventually refer to the stones in and around the fireplace of a home.