What Holidays do Amish Celebrate?
Do the Amish celebrate holidays? Some people have the misconception that the Amish do not celebrate holidays. But the fact is, the Amish celebrate numerous holidays.
They don't necessarily celebrate all of the traditional American holidays, for instance, Memorial Day. But they do have some unique Amish holidays that they celebrate.
Which American Holidays Do the Amish Not Celebrate?
The Amish do not typically celebrate July 4th, Memorial Day, Labor Day, or Halloween. They are nonresistant and do not believe in going to war, so they don't celebrate the holidays concerning our freedom. They mostly celebrate religious holidays.
Depending on their place of employment, they may get to have a day off of work on these holidays. They may even put off a few fireworks over the 4th of July, but they don't necessarily observe the holiday.
But the Amish enjoy an occasional day off of work to relax and enjoy their family, the same as the rest of us. And they enjoy watching fireworks as well.
Keep in mind that the different Amish groups do not all have the same traditions.
October 11 Amish Holiday
October 11th is a unique Amish holiday. The Amish practice communion twice a year, usually around Easter and in the fall. And they have a day of fasting and prayer before taking communion. So this is a day that they set aside to search their soul and make sure that they are in good standing with the Lord and the church.
Fasting, for us, meant that we had to skip breakfast. We were not allowed to eat anything until lunchtime.
After chores, we all gathered around the family room and read the entire Easter story. And my dad spent a long time in prayer. The Old Order Amish have a prayer book and read their prayers. But as New Order Amish, we didn't use a prayer book. My dad had a relationship with the Lord, and he talked to God as a friend.
We were supposed to do as little work as possible, spend this day in an attitude of prayer, and make sure we were right with God. (I will insert here that a lot of their focus is on works. As an Amish person, I never completely understood that it's solely my faith in Jesus Christ that makes me righteous.)
My best memory of this day is spending the afternoon with my family. I grew up on a big farm (100+ acres). We had quite a bit of wooded land and lots of black walnut trees. And we had a family tradition on October 11th. In the afternoon, we all rode with tractor and wagon to our woods and gathered up walnuts. We dried the walnuts and spent many winter evenings picking them out of the shells.
Do Amish Celebrate Thanksgiving?
The Amish do celebrate Thanksgiving. They recognize it as a special day set aside to be thankful for all their blessings.
However, Thanksgiving comes right in the middle of their wedding season, and their weddings are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So, many Amish will be attending a wedding on Thanksgiving Day. But if they don't have a wedding on that day, they may want to enjoy a relaxing day at home or with family.
Some of the Amish will cook a big feast for Thanksgiving. But others have been enjoying a big meal of turkey and dressing at numerous weddings recently. So they may not feel like having a big meal for Thanksgiving.
(This can vary in different groups as well.)
Do Amish Celebrate Christmas?
Yes, the Amish celebrate Christmas. They recognize this day as a celebration of Jesus' birth. For them, this holiday is all about Jesus, family, and food.
And I recently wrote an entire blog post about this subject. You can click here to read more about the Amish and their Christmas traditions.
The Amish also celebrate New Year's Day. It's often another day spent with extended family.
Do the Amish Celebrate Easter?
Yes, Easter is an Amish holiday. On this day, the Amish celebrate Jesus' resurrection from the dead. And if it happens to be their church Sunday, they will probably have an all-day communion service. Twice a year, at the communion services, the preachers share the crucifixion story.
And Easter isn't about the bunny or the egg. We often got a little bit of Easter candy, and sometimes we painted eggs for fun. But that's not what Easter was about. Easter is celebrated as a religious holiday, about Jesus and what He did for us on the cross.
Some of the Amish also celebrate Easter Monday, but this wasn't necessarily a holiday for us.
Good Friday - an Amish Holiday
The Amish also celebrate Good Friday (the Friday before Easter). This is another fast and prayer day, as it is almost communion time again.
We were not allowed to work on Good Friday. And we spent the day singing, praying, and reading the crucifixion and resurrection story. We always read the story from several of the Gospels and compared what the different authors shared.
List of Unique Amish Holidays - Amish Religious Holidays
The Amish have a couple of holidays that the rest of us don't typically celebrate.
• Second Christmas
Second Christmas is an Amish holiday. It's December 26, the day after Christmas. I'm not sure why they added another holiday to Christmas. Maybe they just wanted another day off, or they needed another day to get together with all their extended families. But to be honest, I feel like the whole week between Christmas and New Year's Day is one big long holiday.
Some Amish celebrate Old Christmas, which I believe is on January 6th. But we never celebrated this day. And I never heard of any Amish in Lancaster County that celebrated Old Christmas.
• Ascension Day
Ascension Day is an Amish holiday. It is traditionally celebrated on the sixth Thursday after Easter Sunday. It's the day that Christ ascended back to heaven, forty days after His resurrection from the dead.
Ascension Day for the Amish is another day to take off work. I'm sure they celebrate this day in many varied ways. But we often had a church picnic, or maybe just the youth would get together for a picnic and softball game.
• Pentecost Monday
Another Amish holiday is Pentecost Monday. It is celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday. Pentecost is commemorated as the day the Holy Spirit fell on the Apostles of Christ, according to the book of Acts. Since the holiday falls on a Sunday, the Amish take off the next day. They have decided to celebrate Pentecost on Monday.
And if we didn't have a church picnic on Ascension Day, we usually had one on this day. Or we just stayed at home and relaxed. But the youth always got together to do something on the holidays.
In conclusion, I loved all these holidays as an Amish kid. Of course, we never had a day with no work because the farm animals always had to be taken care of. But it was nice to have an excuse to take a day off and get together with family or friends.
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