Photo taken by Jeff Smoll, Jeff Smoll Photography
Yes, the Amish celebrate Christmas!
They observe Christmas as a sacred holiday with simplicity and tradition. While some are influenced by the traditions of their English friends, many do not get caught up in the modern-day commercialism as we experience it. Most don’t include Santa Claus, electric lights, flashy tinsel, fancy wrapping paper, or Christmas trees. Rather, they focus on the reason for the holiday– Jesus’ birth.
Because Christmas is so important in the Amish community, it is celebrated for two days. On December 25, they fast, meditate, and read Scripture; on December 26, or “Second Christmas,” they celebrate with family and friends with festive gatherings, great feasts, and gift-giving.
Because the Pennsylvania Amish have been greatly influenced by German Christmas traditions, they often decorate by lighting candles and hanging stars, angels, greenery, and holiday cards. Most families exchange gifts and usually pick names out of a hat so each person receives one gift each year. Gifts are not always of the old-fashioned handmade variety. Sometimes they give gifts such as Barbie dolls (dressed Amish), board games, and toy tractors. In addition, homemade cookies, candy, and stamped Christmas cards are very popular. Often Amish owned stores sell these homemade items.
At the Amish schoolhouse, a Christmas program is usually planned and is one of the most anticipated events of the year. The Amish community enjoys watching the children sing, read poems, and perform Christmas plays.
And, when it happens to snow, the children enjoy playing outside. They race down the hills on their sleds, ice skate, play ice hockey, and of course, have snowball fights and snowman building competitions.
While we, the English, enjoy our traditions at Christmas, the Amish, too, will be enjoying their holiday traditions, but always with Jesus at the center of their celebration.
To learn more about how the Amish celebrate Christmas, listen to Ada’s story.