Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Amish Christmas

Guests of the Millersburg, Ohio, Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast often ask if the Amish celebrate Christmas. Yes they do, but in a very different manner from the rest of us. An Amish Christmas is very simple, as you will see in the poem below.

The Old Order and the New Order Amish spend more for gifts and may participate in gift exchanges; whereas the Swartzentruber sect would keep with the older ways.

The picture to the left displays a snowman made by Amish children. Look at how creative they are since they are not sitting in front of a television or gaming device! They even thought to add a beard and a pet cat.

At Christmas time I usually read the poem, "The Year of the Sled" by my cousin Barbara Yoder Hall. It so aptly describes an Amish Christmas.

The Year of the Sled
By Barbara Yoder Hall

Amish Christmas... No trees, no trimming, no toys, no Santa,
But no sympathy needed. Different world... secluded and sheltered.

No electric... so no stereo, TVs, radios, cassette recorders, electric trains.

Christmas was simply- The birth of the Christ child, a day of rest.
I loved resting on Friday, or Tuesday, or Saturday for no apparent reason.

Oh, but Christmas WAS different; Breakfast was better. No mush, no oatmeal.
Instead, fried potatoes, sausage, eggs, fresh butter, biscuits, buttermilk...
AND one gift, unwrapped, beside our plate... a practical school item;
sometimes a ruler, or Eversharp, or a box of Crayolas.

Christmas really WAS special;
Our only candy of the year... a block of chocolate... a
Knife stuck in the middle to chip off pieces all day, and
the next, if there was any left over.

Oranges too... juicy, run down your arm kind.
Chocolate and oranges all day, what a delight!

Oh yes, the year of the sled.
"It stood in the smokehouse between the hams and
Sausage for two weeks," Dad said.
"where did you get the money for it?" an older and wiser
Sibling asked.
"I sold a cow," he said simply. "Good," I said, "One less to milk."
"Smaller milk check," Mom said.

Amish children sled riding

Boys rode first, while girls did dishes, naturally.
Ten children and a sled, two at a time... plus baby.
Baby squealed. Babies don't know you're supposed to be quiet.

Long, cumbersome dresses and a sled, but still happy.

Brother Ferdinand said to me, "I knew it was in the smokehouse."
"No you didn't," I told him, "YOU would have told me."

Today I went shopping... bumper to bumper traffic...
Tired clerks, rude people rushing.
I say to myself, but ONLY to myself,
"I'm going back to the year of the sled."

Submitted by Loretta Coblentz

Joe Keim from Map Ministry.org writes about his Christmas memory: In our home Christmas meant having lots of oranges and grapefruits around. Otherwise, we received homemade candies and maybe some chore gloves for the winter. Very rarely did we get more than a $10 or $20 gift, and this, of course, had to do with the fact that there were 14 of us children. However, I must point out that I did receive one gift that will forever stand out. It was a black wool hat. I was 14 years old at the time, and I, in the worst kind of way, wanted to be respected as an adult and not just a kid. The black wool hat made that difference. I got rid of my stocking cap and started wearing the wool hat and finally I felt like a grown up.

There are about 10 different sects of Amish in the Holmes and Wayne County area. For more information, visit the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center.

The owners of the Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast share Amish information at breakfast time. A small orientation is given while guests are eating their meal about places to go and different ideas to do. We provide places that normal tourists wouldn't think of, as well as highlight interests such as quilting, wood working, antiques, etc.

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