An Amish Christmas

An Amish Christmas

Christmas is only a short time away, and I’m already getting the pre-Christmas jitters.  Before long, I’ll be digging out our favorite decorations and deciding what I’ll bake to share with my family. Let alone the Amish Christmas Miracles Collection will be releasing in just two weeks!

I often get asked if the Amish celebrate the holidays and the answer is an astounding …yes! They may not rejoice in the degree as we English do, but they still engage in holiday celebrations just the same.

Just like us, Christmas is a big day in an Amish home. They believe that Christmas is a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Still, they don’t allow commercialization to overstep the real reason we celebrate Christmas. You’ll find no visions of Santa Claus or brightly decorated Christmas trees. What you will see is fresh pine boughs surrounded by a candle or two and strings of Christmas cards strung from one corner of the room to the other.

During the holiday’s Amish families across the country come together by sending letters and special Christmas cards to loved ones near and far.

The highlight of the Christmas season is the annual Christmas Eve school program. The children will read poems, sing songs and pass gifts out to the parents and teachers, all while enjoying Christmas snacks. It’s a long-treasured tradition celebrated through most Amish communities. Long winter breaks are not followed in Amish communities. School-aged children may get a half of a day off on Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day and second Christmas, but then it’s back to school as usual.

On Christmas morning, families will gather for devotionals and the exchange of small gifts. Children will most likely receive a toy, young girls will receive an item for their hope chests, and young boys will receive a tool or something special to help them with their chosen trade. In the afternoon they will come together as a family and enjoy a large meal.

Can you imagine having two Christmases? That is precisely what the Amish do, they celebrate Zwedde Grischtfaag, which means second Christmas. Since families are large, it may be difficult to see everyone on one day, so this is where the second Christmas comes in. On December 25, they fast, meditate, and on December 26, or “Second Christmas,” they celebrate with family and friends.

A more solemn celebration that begins with fasting, Old Christmas is celebrated on January 6. It symbolizes the day the Three Wise Men came to Bethlehem and found baby Jesus. This day is spent focusing on the reason for the holiday– Jesus’ birth.

No matter what traditions you hold dear, may you take the time to step back and remember this holiday in true Amish style …God, Family, and Community.

By Tracy Fredrychowski

Things we Can Learn from the Amish

What we can learn from the Amish

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be Amish?

If you find yourself in a season where you are looking for ways to slow down and simplify your life, I encourage you to look to the Amish for inspiration. The way they live is no secret. We “English” have everything they have at our fingertips; all we have to do is look for it.

If you find their way of life appealing, there are many things you can do to bring some Amish values into your life.

Practice Gratitude. Being humble is a big step to living a quieter simple life. In today’s world, many of us want to be the center of attention; we want to stand out in the crowd and be heard. Finding peace, and serenity starts with being silent. Listen to those around you, avoid gossip, stay clear of bragging, and avoid being too showy.

Establish Peace. It may be hard for many of us to find peace in a world full of news, electronics, and the constant connection to the outside world. But finding ways to add periods of calm to your life should be the ultimate goal every day. Turn off the TV, practice yoga, learn meditation, read a book, and reject all forms of noise.

Live on Less. How many “things” in your life do you have that add no value? Many of our homes are filled with consumer-driven products that just clutter our spaces. If you start ridding your home of all those things that just take up space, and don’t add any meaning, you’ll find a true freedom from owning less.

Provide for Yourself. Have you ever stopped and thought about what would happen if you couldn’t go to the store? Finding ways to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle is a big part of living a simpler life. Being able to raise vegetables, sew your own clothes, conserve energy, and bake bread are just a few ways to learn to take care of yourself.

Work Hard. Don’t be afraid of hard work or to take pride in it. Discover the feeling of satisfaction from putting in a hard day’s work. Whether you sit at a desk or get your hands dirty, do your best and commend others who do a good job around you.

Be Modest. We all like to look nice and feel good about ourselves but being obsessed with the latest fashion or spending hundreds of dollars on beauty products will only leave you dissatisfied with your true appearance. When choosing your clothing, look for flattering styles that are not too tight, too revealing or too flashy. Wear comfortable clothes, while still stylish and presentable. Keep accessories to a minimum and be as true to your natural appearance as possible.

Appreciate the Outdoors. Add some form of outdoor activity to your life every day. A walk or a stroll through the park, a few minutes pulling weeds, or a game of catch are just a few ways to restore your mental health and gain an appreciation of the outside world.

Seek Community. Do you know your neighbors? Build relationships with those around you. Gladly lend tools, trade babysitting, and go out of your way to help them in times of need. Many of our neighbors may be lonely and feel isolated. Take the time to introduce yourself, and be friendly.

Build Family Ties. In today’s modern world, broken families are normal. Take a stand, and stop the cycle. Spend time working on your family! Make a point to sit down to meals together, reach out to elderly family members, and build simple family traditions.

Rely on God. The most important value we can learn from the Amish is to put our faith in the Lord and remember we are not God’s children only on Sundays. As we make an effort to slow down, we can hear God’s message more clearly. Whether you are at home, in the car or out shopping, act with compassion, be loving and kind, and put others before yourself.

Changing the way you live starts with YOU!

By making a few of these small changes, you will find yourself slowing down and living a more sustainable life, just like the Amish do.

by Tracy Fredrychowski