Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas in Amish Country

Did you ever wonder how, or if, the Amish celebrate Christmas? Well they do! An Amish Christmas, however, is quite different from the way most of us celebrate Christmas. You won’t find Santa, or a Christmas tree, or extravagant gifts, garland and bright colored decorations, etc.
The Amish keep “Christ” in Christmas. If you visit an Amish school around the holidays their Christmas program is based on the Bible. Their celebration is all about the birth of Christ.
They will exchange gifts but you won’t find new cars, diamonds or furs in their gift boxes. They usually give something simple. A young woman may receive some cloth to sew herself a new dress. A young man may receive a pocket knife or flashlight. A child may receive a game, puzzle or toy, but not 20. Spouses who exchange a gift may give each other something like a new egg beater or a thermal travel mug to drink coffee while driving in their Amish buggy.
Like many of the rest of the world, their families will gather to share a meal. You may find traditional foods like turkey, mashed potatoes, noodles, etc. But they also have things that they might make just for the holidays like Monster Cookies. Monster Cookies have several add-ins like M&M candies, nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, etc. They are more expensive to make, so you won’t find them on the table just any old day.
Singing is a very popular pass time and you may find singing in an Amish home at Christmas time. At some gatherings each family that comes to the dinner/gathering will sing a song to all of the others. Some of the songs may be a church or school song, and some will be originals that they made up just for the holiday.
You may also find them playing games at a holiday gathering. They like card games like Dutch Blitz, board games, and homemade games and brain-teasers.
You may hear them speak of “old Christmas”. While they may have a special celebration on December 25th, they celebrate Christmas on January 6th or Old Christmas. If you visit an Amish community on January 6th you will find their businesses closed.
If you visit a community like Holmes County, Ohio, which is home of the World’s Largest Amish Community, you may have the opportunity to take a tour that describes the Christmas traditions and takes you to an Amish home for a meal. Many times if you are staying at a bed and breakfast they will arrange for you to meet the Amish, take a tour and/or have a meal.
This article was written by Carol Steffey at Garden Gate Get-A-Way Bed & Breakfast.

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