The Amish Blog
An Amish Christmas (A Christmas to Believe In)
by Michelle ~ A Normal Amish Girl
When I write about Christmas traditions I am not writing for all of the Amish groups. I am only writing about my family and friends in our corner of the world. I don’t have the first clue what other communities do to celebrate Christmas. I want to share some of the Christmas traditions we had in the past and some we still enjoy doing every year in and around December.
The local Amish churches always have church on Christmas Day no matter what day of the week Christmas falls on. Not all districts will have it but if you are in one that doesn’t have church, you would likely go to another district. The Christmas service always seemed special. (I have been enlightened to the fact that Jesus was not born on December 25 but I still feel it is nice to have a day set aside to think on His birth and celebrate it. We celebrate our birthdays so why shouldn’t we celebrate His?)
The lunch served after Christmas church usually includes cookies, all sorts of peanut butter and chocolate concoctions, party mix, and homemade taffy plus the usual fare of pickles, red beets, cheese and PB sandwiches. It is basically whatever treats the host family wants to share.
This is one that I personally don’t do anymore. Every year, most of the women and girls buy fabric to make a new dress to wear to church on Christmas Day. When I still did this, I would try to buy a fabric that was maybe new to the area or get a color that was a little bit different from other dresses I already had. The reason I quit is because I had so many dresses and I simply didn’t need any.
Christmas Cards and Letters
This is something I do one year and skip the next because some years I just don’t get it done. I actually like to send cards and letters all year around but don’t get it done as often as I like. I have a lot of family and friends that do not live in the area or that I don’t see very often. I like to send them updates about what my family and I have been up to, newsworthy or not. I try to buy cards that have a Biblical theme because I don’t believe in most of the “Christmas-y” stuff that’s out there and I do not want to promote it.
Dad bought a model train years ago and he would set it up every once in a while in the winter months. For a few years, he didn’t set it up at all. Then a few years ago, he and my sister set it up in one of our sheds and they added the “village”. My sister had some little houses that she had started collecting and they thought it would be perfect to set those up around the track. They bought trees, some village people, and fake snow. Each year they plan on adding something whether it be people or more track or another building. This year they added a fire station.
The children enjoy driving this around and around. Did I mention the train has a whistle? Well, it does. And it’s loud. And we hear it. A lot.
Much to my disappointment this only happens this time of the year. I could easily make some of these delectable delights any time of the year but it never seems right doing them in say, July or August. We make Peanut Butter Crackers dipped in chocolate, Party Mix, Rice Crispie Treats with some sort of butterscotch/chocolate concoction on top, Peanut Butter Balls dipped in chocolate (I’m sure that’s not the official name but that’s just what we call them), Peanut Butter Cookies, White Christmas, Mexican Wedding Rings, and so on and so forth. Basically, the trend is to make something with peanut butter and cover it with chocolate. Or just take an everyday snack and cover it with chocolate. (You don’t have to wonder why I am ‘fluffy’.) Some things we make every year and some we only do every so often. It just depends on what we are hungry for.
OH. MY. WORD. These are too fun! If you ever get the chance to make homemade taffy, DO IT! Once the taffy is cooked is when the fun begins. First, we have to slather our hands in butter so the taffy doesn’t stick to our hands. Then, we find a pulling partner and take the wad of gooey mush and start working it between all four hands. There is a certain way to “pull” taffy and when I first start, I never remember how to do it. But by the end of the event, I get the hang of it only to have to go through it all again at the next taffy pull. We work the taffy until it starts stiffening up and it gets lighter in color. I wish I had some photos to share but when I’m at a taffy pull, I’m all buttered up and not thinking about pictures!
Once the taffy is stiff enough (to be determined by one of the women in charge), we work it into a rope and slightly twist it. Then, cut it into bite-sized pieces and wrap it in wax paper. (I know I’m missing a lot of details but maybe I will do a post later of just a taffy pull.) This is not something we do a lot for ourselves but I sure enjoy helping others. Taffy is not something I eat a lot…I would rather help make it than eat it. (Maybe I should put peanut butter on it and dip it in chocolate???)
We always try to get everyone together around Christmas. My parents have 25 grandchildren and there are 12 adults besides Mom and Dad. We serve a meal and afterward have all of our special treats. Mom makes a candy tray with all of the diabetic-making treats and gummy bears and candy canes on it. Sometimes we make punch or something different to drink. This year, we are having a carry-in so not sure what all will show up!
Dad and Mom try to get everyone a gift because they are parents and grandparents and that’s what parents and grandparents do.They try to get something useful or educational.
We brothers and sisters don’t do a gift exchange among ourselves because we all agreed that we already have everything we need. We like to do stuff for each other throughout the year, not gifts per se, but helping in other ways.
Last Christmas was on a Saturday and we didn’t have church that day so we just stayed home. I planned to have some friends get together and work on a project that I enjoy very much. People throughout the U.S. put Love Bundles together for Children’s Lifeline which is an organization that works in Haiti. Before these packages are sent to Haiti they have to be gone through to be sure they have everything in them that is requested by Lifeline which is what we did Christmas Day 2015. I get such a joy out of this and I am so blessed by the generous hearts that put these together. Some people just go above and beyond by putting way more items than necessary in each bundle they send. Most often those are the ones we split and make a second bundle. After we worked a few hours on the Love Bundles, everyone headed to my house for supper and an evening of fellowship. We played games and visited and had an impromptu singing. Click below to hear a recording I took with my phone. Perhaps this will be our new Christmas tradition! Traditions have to start somewhere, right?
Have a Blessed Christmas and I encourage you to take time to sit down, read the story of Jesus’ birth, and reflect on what it really means to you. And most important of all: BELIEVE.
P.S. I highly recommend that you try these Christmas Recipes!
Today‘s guest author is Michelle Schwartz, the owner of “The Spice Shack” which is a small, home-based business that specializes in bulk spices, medicinal herbs, and loose leaf teas. Check out her online store at www.thespiceshack.org. Michelle enjoys her family, farm life, anything outdoors, and running her shop. She also raises Miniature Hereford cattle as a hobby.