Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Amish Holidays

Amish Family Memorial Day Outing
 Special days observed as holidays vary slightly from one Amish region to another. All communities observe Good Friday, Easter, Ascension Day, and Christmas.  Pentecost, referred to in some articles, coincides with spring communion.  In Ohio, unlike the Pennsylvania Amish, Pentecost is not named as an Amish Holy day; however, spring communion always falls near that date.  Here, spring communion is coordinated with neighboring churches so that preachers may attend neighboring district services.  Thanksgiving, though, not a religious holiday, is observed.

Going Fishing
 Amish do not observe national holidays in the same manner as their "Worldly" neighbors.  Until recent years Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Armistice Day went unrecognized in the traditional community.  After all, the Amish (and Mennonites) are pacifists and refuse to bear arms.  In compliance to their doctrine of non-resistance, the Amish are forbidden to take part in violence and war; therefore, typically, would not give homage to the war dead.

More and more, Old and New Order Amish-owned businesses in Holmes County, Ohio, close their doors on national holidays; probably due to influence of non-Amish businesses who close for these observances.  For the Amish, these national holidays are simply an opportunity for a family day, perhaps a picnic or fishing in the neighbor's pond or a family cookout, with no patriotic tribute in mind. The Swartzentruber Amish, a stricter sect, do not observe any national holiday.

Family Making Hay
 Amish religious holidays observed with fasting (until noon) are:  Good Friday, Ascension Day, Christmas and Old Christmas (January 6), and spring and fall communion.  Religious holidays are observed not by having a special church service or program, but rather by refraining from normal work and fellowshipping over a noon meal, often with extended family. Youth sporting activities such as swimming or playing ball are not tolerated on a religious holiday.

For more insights into the secret world of the Amish, read Amish Society by John A Hostetler and Growing Up Amish:  The Teenage Years by Richard Stevick.  Visit the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center in Berlin, Ohio and enjoy an overnight stay at the award-winning Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast where innkeepers, Paul and Loretta, will share Amish life insights.

Submitted by Loretta Coblentz
June 1, 2011

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