Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How Ohio Amish Celebrate Christmas

Guests of the Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast in Millersburg, Ohio often ask us how the Amish celebrate Christmas. In this post I will explain the patterns, ways and history of our families, as my husband and my parents were raised Old Order Amish.  It must be understood that Amish communities, families, and sects vary vastly.  Additionally, here in Ohio, the various sects celebrate Christmas in slightly differerent ways, and yet, so very much alike.

Showman made by  Swartzentruber Amish children
 In Holmes County, Ohio, the Old Order, who are among the more liberal of the Amish, celebrate Christmas on December 25 and again on Old Christmas, which is January 6.  The Amish fast on their most holy days.  None of the Amish of this area fast on December 25; however, they do so on old Christmas, which is considered the more holy of the two Christmas days.  The fast means they do not eat after midnight the night before, then on the holy day, which might be Ascencion Day, Good Friday, Old Christmas, and Thanksgiving, they wait to eat until noon, when the family enjoys a great feast.

All societies transition, but the Swartzentruber Amish, who are the most conservative, have transitioned the least.

I asked my mother-in-law if she had ever heard of the Amish celebrating the 2nd day of Christmas, to which she answered "Yes."  She told me that years ago some of the stricter Amish celebrated December 25, then also the 26th and then Old Christmas on January 6.  See a previous post regarding Old Christmas.
 
Today I questioned a lady of the strictest sect of Amish here, the Swartzentruber, if they celebrate the second day of Christmas, December 26, and she said, "Yes." They cook a big Christmas meal on December 25, but she explained that they celebrate the 26th as a casual of leisure; a day when they might expect a visit from family.  They would not work more than necessary on that day.


Amish Home Window
 Toys are simple.  The Swartzentruber appreciate wooden toys for the children, homemade dolls without faces for the girls, cookware for the ladies, and tools for the men.  My cousin wrote this poem about Christmas depicting what Christmas was like as a child while growing up Amish.

Submitted by Loretta Coblentz
December 5, 2012

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