The Amish lifestyle and beliefs fascinate most people, mainly because they are different. Although most people know the Amish share some practices with other Christian groups in America, some of the holidays are secular, so one may want to know, Do Amish celebrate Thanksgiving?
Yes, the Amish celebrate Thanksgiving. Though Thanksgiving is not based on Christian traditions, the Amish have adopted it and spend it as a family day away from work.
So, what does an Amish Thanksgiving look like? How do Amish people celebrate their Thanksgiving? What other holidays do the Amish celebrate? Read on to find out.
What does an Amish Thanksgiving look like?
For the Amish, Thanksgiving is reportedly celebrated much like it is for non-Amish people. Time away from work is considered to be spent with family and feasts. However, because this holiday in November falls in the middle of the Amish wedding season, sometimes community members will miss the Thanksgiving celebration in favor of a wedding that is said to take place at the bride’s home. Amish weddings are reported to be elaborate affairs; they require more preparation, meal planning, and participation than what is needed for a Thanksgiving event. The weddings have hundreds of guests and are also a time for family and festivity, so the absence is not felt.
If there is no wedding or the family is so inclined, Thanksgiving will consist of a family gathering and dinner. Amish Thanksgiving is said to be more subdued and focused on religious customs.
How do Amish people celebrate their Thanksgiving?
The Amish observe Thanksgiving as a day of rest. Most are said to close their businesses for the day. This may, however, vary from one community to the next. When they celebrate Thanksgiving, the Amish groups are said to bring their extended families and some friends together to enjoy a good home-cooked meal. Families typically gather at the larger homes, with the women preparing the food, consisting of turkey, fresh rolls, corn, dressing, squash, and a variety of vegetables. Depending on the size of the family, it’s not unusual for the women to devote several days to preparing and cooking all the food for the celebration.
An array of different desserts usually follows the main course. The most popular ones include pumpkin pie, apple pie, brownie cakes, and cookies. Family members and guests usually bring a dessert or side dish to the feast.
During Thanksgiving, families are also known to engage in different forms of entertainment. The children play, and sometimes the adults join in for card and board games such as Monopoly, Farming, Phase 10, or Rummikub. In the evening, the young and the old may get together and spend time singing.
However, you’ll find variations across Amish communities. Some members are said to take Thanksgiving as a time to worship. In others, children may be put on a Thanksgiving singing program. Yet some spend the evening on benefit dinners for different causes.
What other holidays do the Amish celebrate?
Holidays celebrated by an Amish group depend on its specific affiliation or community. However, most will not celebrate July 4, Labour Day, Memorial Day, or Halloween. They don’t recognize holidays concerning freedom, as they do not believe in going to war.
Most Amish communities are said to observe religious holidays and celebrate Pentecost, Good Friday, Easter, Christmas, Ascension Day, and Thanksgiving.
Christmas (December 25th) According to the Amish, the community views Christmas as the most significant holiday. It is observed on December 25 to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. On or around Christmas Day, Amish schoolchildren host a Christmas program. They will perform skits, sing holiday songs, and read Bible verses. Most Amish families are said to have a tradition of making Christmas cards, which are exchanged with other families and occasionally even their “English” (non-Amish) friends.
Although the Amish observe Christmas, their customs differ slightly from those of the “English.” To begin with, they are said to rarely decorate the house with a large tree or lights. Instead, they may hang a Christmas tree upside-down or decorate it with candles and some greenery. There are no wish lists or Santa visits, although some families could engage in a modest gift exchange on December 25.
Second Christmas: December 26th According to reports, the Amish celebrate “Second Christmas” on December 26. This is a day for unwinding or spending time with their extended relatives. Most are said to participate in another large supper together. Still, everyone is expected to bring a meal this time, so the women don’t spend another afternoon in the kitchen cooking. Families generally spend the day together reading the Bible and singing Christmas carols.
Good Friday: Good Friday has been observed to be a day of fasting in the Amish community. Some families are said to eat an extra-large supper and a snack the night before to ensure their stomachs are full in preparation for Friday. Some groups fast from sunrise to sunset on Friday. Rather than a festive feast, the “feast” concludes with a substantial home-cooked dinner. Fasting, prayer, and Bible reading are all done during the day.
Easter Sunday: The Amish are said to observe this occasion in remembrance of the day Jesus rose from the dead. They are reported to view it as a profoundly spiritual day and spend it immersed in religion and community. There are many diverse ways that Amish households celebrate Easter, but none of them believes in the Easter Bunny. However, most households let kids decorate Easter eggs and go on an egg hunt. They could also take part in games and activities outside. On Easter Monday, many Amish households will dedicate the day to rest and family time.
Ascension Day: Ascension Day is said to be a distinctive holiday observed in the majority of Amish communities. This day occurs precisely forty days after Easter Sunday. According to the Amish, this day is the defining moment of Jesus’ physical “ascension” or return to heaven. Ascension Day is observed by most Amish who are off work. They close their businesses to take a day off and instead spend time with their family and neighbors, with no feast.
Pentecost Monday: The Amish reportedly take the day off to honor Pentecost, which is observed 50 days following Easter Sunday. Pentecost is said to commemorate when the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit. Because Pentecost falls on a Sunday, the Amish have a holiday the following Monday. On their days off, they meditate on their beliefs and engage in introspection. There isn’t a huge feast organized for Pentecost Monday.
New Year’s Day – January 1st– the Amish treat New Year’s Eve like any ordinary day of the year. Some people will go to bed at their usual time, while others choose to wait until midnight to fall asleep. There are no drinks, no New Year’s resolutions, and no late-night celebrations to watch the ball drop.
On New Year’s Day, you can expect to witness some festivities. Amish people are said to feast on pig and sauerkraut to ring in the new year commemorating the dish they brought with them when they immigrated to America. However, they are not compelled to fast or go to church because it is not considered a holy day. New Year’s Day is regarded as a day without obligations related to work.
Communion: The Amish observe Communion twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. The communion ritual takes six to eight hours and is usually held at a member’s home. Here, members are expected to openly confess their transgressions to one another and focus on fortifying their group’s togetherness in devotion to God. It is said that tradition dictates that they eat bread and drink wine, but they may also partake in a foot-washing ceremony, a sermon, and a supper.
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