You probably won’t find decorated trees, hanging wreaths, or wrapped presents in an Amish home during the holidays, but you will find the spirit of Christmas alive and well. As I was out and about these last few weeks visiting Shipshewana/LaGrange County retailers, I asked some of the Amish about whether they celebrate Christmas.
Everyone answered yes, the Amish communities in our area do celebrate Christmas.
I guess the better term is “observe” rather than celebrate. The Amish observe the Christian significance of Christmas, when 2,000 years ago the Christ child was born to the Virgin Mary. When I asked how the holiday was honored, most of the answers were very similar as well.
Here’s a few ways the Amish enjoy Christmas together.
Most said they had numerous family gatherings. When Amish families gather, it’s an all-day affair. The entire extended family assembles, and everyone brings food to share. Candies are made, chores are shared and there’s a lot of catching-up. Typically, however, presents are not given.
“We don’t usually share gifts,” said one Amish lady. “We do a potluck, sing hymns and we’re together all day. It’s a good day.”
I asked two younger Amish gals about gift-giving, and they said they do share in this tradition. They typically give smaller, practical gifts, such as books, gloves, or even quilts.
“We don’t really grow up thinking that Christmas is about gifts, even though we might give something small,” said one of the gals.
When we talked to our good Amish friend, Mahlon, he mentioned his brothers and he get in a few practical jokes they play on each other. “They’re harmless jokes,” said Mahlon, “but it sure is fun.”
One more observation is the Amish don’t appear frenzied or stressed over the holidays. I guess their simple ways translate into a more relaxed Christmas season. Lesson learned. When I asked one local Amish gentleman how the Amish say “Merry Christmas,” he replied: “Merry Christmas.” That jokester! Then he added, “Here is the German way: ‘Freulich Kristag!’ (meaning Happy Christmas).”
To all our readers: Freulich Kristag!