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.

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Bed & Breakfast?

It’s Friday afternoon and travelers are calling around trying to find a room for the weekend. The phone rings, the innkeeper answers, “Garden Gate Get-A-Way Bed & Breakfast, this is Carol”, and the person on the other end says “A bed and breakfast! I don’t want to stay at a bed and breakfast!” and she hangs up. B&B owners all over the United States experience similar reactions to people wanting to stay in a bed and breakfast.
What is a bed and breakfast anyway? A B&B is a home where the owners opened up extra rooms to travelers and/or put an addition on their home to accommodate travelers. Each bed and breakfast is unique so you need to ask questions to get the kind of accommodations that you are looking for. Some of these lodging establishments have you share a bath with another guest room and some offer private baths. Some bathrooms have shower stalls and some have bath tubs. Some have a private entrance to your room and others make you walk through their home or upstairs to get to your room. Some have double bed, queen beds or king beds. Some specialize in traditional or standard rooms. Some have luxurious Jacuzzi rooms or rooms with fireplaces. Some offer a continental breakfast and some have a gourmet, sit-down breakfast that is served in courses, or anything in between. Some are in the city and some in the country. Some are on a lake and some have beautiful gardens, etc.
How is a bed and breakfast experience different from a hotel experience? Many B&B’s cater to adults so you won’t hear children running up and down the halls and slamming doors. Many B&B’s offer a home-cooked breakfast, not something frozen and thawed from a restaurant supply company. Many B&B’s put a higher thread-count sheets and nicer blankets on your bed to help you have a more comfortable rest. You will also usually find nicer towels and amenities in the bath than you would at a hotel. The biggest difference is the personal touch! If you have never been to the area, a B&B owner will help you find a nice place to eat within your budget. They will tell you the attractions that you just don’t want to miss. They may tell you about that little, out-of-the-way place that a tourist wouldn’t normally find on their own and hotel wouldn’t mention. They will help you plan for a special birthday or anniversary with various packages or reservations. For instance, they might put a cake in your guest room, make dinner reservations for you and then set up a horse & carriage ride after dinner to top of the special occasion. If there is something that you are looking for, shopping for, or wanting to see they can usually tell you if it is available in their area and how to get there. At a bed and breakfast the guest is a V.I.P. and the innkeeper does what they can to make you have a special experience and want to return.
This Blog was written by Carol Steffey, Owner of Garden Gate Get-A-Way Bed & Breakfast in Holmes County Ohio (home of the world’s largest Amish Community). For more questions or information about a bed and breakfast stay you may contact Carol at (330) 674-7608 or email at