Christmas is an important holiday in Amish Country, and it’s a very important holiday for the Amish themselves.
While the held Christmas traditions of the Amish differ from the mainline American culture, the traditions are based in their Christian faith, meaning, and purpose.
Oftentimes youth groups bundle up and bring musical cheer to shut-ins, the elderly, and those who may be experiencing difficulties. Amish often have many connections to area non-Amish people, such as their English taxi drivers, neighbors, and friends, and will sing for them as well. Typically, they will come to house and sing several songs and end with the chorus, ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’. Often they may leave a plate of fruit and candy goodies for those they have sung for.
2. Reading of the Biblical Christmas Story
The common place where Amish read the Christmas story from is Luke 2. It is a tradition in the Amish church to read the Christmas account from Luke 2 and sometimes families also read the story in their homes in conjunction with their gatherings of extended family or when their gifts are opened by the family.
Gifts are important. Many times families, prayer partner groups, or friendship groups will exchange names for gift giving to make it fair and to involve everyone. Often the gifts are large and practical. There is no gaming and over-occupation with electronic games as in the larger culture. Practical gifts often include such items as winter clothing, hand tools, flashlights, meaningful books, notebooks, or candles.
4. Families gather
Families and friends getting together is at the very core of the Amish lifestyle. Hospitality. Preparing food. And spending loads of quality time together is really what enables the Amish culture to thrive and grow. Often the Christmas gathering is on or around Christmas Day. Sometimes church services are held on Christmas Day and other days become family days. Even though in the past 20-25 years many Amish have left the family farm as their core profession, many can still make their gatherings a priority during the winter when there is less outside work to be done.
5. Food incredible
The Amish are excellent cooks. And are known far and wide for their heart-warming main dishes and delectable sweet treats. It’s safe to say that there is almost no end to food choices when the Amish go all out for holiday family gatherings. Turkey, ham, sometimes but rarely, chicken for meat. Salad with bacon bits and croutons. Stuffing (or dressing, as it’s called in Amish Country), which is fried bread chunks and veggies along with generous butter. Green beans. And then look out when the desserts start coming. Apple jell-o salad. Pumpkin torte. Pies to boot. Pumpkin, pecan, apple, dutch apple are popular pie choices. And of course, topped of with piping coffee and cream. As the main meal draws to a close and transitions into the afternoon of relaxation, games for the children and youths, and more food—afternoon treats of chocolate, cookies, more pie, crispy cereal treats, salsa dips, cheese balls, and more talking, sitting around and stories continuing. This may go in alternating turns as the day turns into evening and time comes for chores to be done by those who are farmers, or families who are starting to heading home.
However, after Christmas Day is past there is New Years and Old Christmas on January 6. Old Christmas is also a traditional time celebrated as a possible date for the birth of the Saviour. Often families will gather again, since the Amish take the day off from their work and many revere it as a partial fast day.