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The Real Amish Holiday

Katherine Ryder Published: January 1, 2011 9:46 AM
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Christmas is the most important holiday that is celebrated by the Amish people. In fact, Christmas is so important in the Amish community that it is celebrated over the course of two days.

On Dec. 25 and on Jan. 6 (which is referred to as "Old Christmas"), Amish families attend church services and family gatherings. Both days are usually spent with friends and family, going to church and feasting afterward. There are also games and singing. Church services, which are conducted in the homes, and family gatherings are the main events of both days.

Feasts during Dec. 25 and Jan. 6 vary depending on who is hosting them. Usually, the host decides what's on the menu and then tells the attending parties what to bring.

There are over 200 church districts in this area, all of which have their own traditions.

Amish Christmas celebrations vary depending on what part of the country the Amish family is located and how strict that particular Amish community is.

Some Amish families may decorate a tree with candles or send out Christmas cards, while other Amish families consider these practices too extravagant and unnecessary.

It really depends on the beliefs of that particular Amish community as to what types of Christmas traditions they may or may not follow.

Contrary to popular belief, Amish families do exchange gifts on Christmas.

These gifts are usually handmade or useful in nature. Younger Amish children will receive handmade clothes, rag dolls, wooden toys, or books.

Older Amish girls might receive household items that they can add to their hope chests for use later in life when they are married and have children, such as china, quilts, and other housewares.

Older Amish boys might receive tools for use on the farm or other useful projects. Amish wives typically receive cooking or sewing implements and Amish husbands might get a tool or something for the horses.

At the Amish schoolhouse, a Christmas program is usually planned and it is one of the most anticipated events of the year.

Three weeks before Christmas all of the children in the school start preparing for the annual Christmas program. All of the children in the school participate. Although costumes aren't necessary for everyone, some of the children do have them. Children often use things from around the home to complete the costume, or, if necessary, some Amish women will help in making them.

Even though the Amish do not accept or believe in the portrayal of Santa Clause, younger children who are not yet old enough to understand the meaning of Christmas find thrill in the details (such as presents and gatherings) that Christmas represents. Their parents explain to them the real meaning as they think they're old enough to comprehend.

The true meaning of Christmas, that is the celebration of Christ's birth, is the real cause for honoring the holiday and brining the family together. This is the most important aspect of the holiday season.

Overall, the main focus of the Christmas season in the Amish home is to honor and celebrate the Christ child. While much time is devoted to prayer and scripture, spending time with the family in relaxation and laughter is just as important to the Amish community.

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