Do Amish Celebrate Christmas?
In case you are wondering, “Do the Amish celebrate Christmas?” The answer to this question is “Yes”, the Amish do celebrate Christmas. They may not celebrate Christmas in the typical American fashion. But they still celebrate this holiday, remembering Jesus’ birth.
The Amish are peculiar people (taken from KJV 1 Peter 2:9), and they believe that they need to be separate and different from the world. So they refuse to follow the world’s standards and traditions. Obviously, they are not different from the world in every single detail. They don’t have any standards about the food they eat or laundry soap they use, etc. And they are humans, just like the rest of us. But they hold on to a lot of traditions, and if they find any verse in Scripture that would suggest something to be wrong, they have a rule against it.
There is a huge amount of variety in Amish circles. And I’m sure they do not all celebrate Christmas in the same way. So bear with me, I usually write from my own personal experience and from what I have witnessed in the Amish around me. I grew up New Order Amish, and my extended family is Old Order Amish. So those are the two groups that I am the most familiar with. For many years, I didn’t even know that stricter groups existed.
Amish Christmas Traditions
Every year before Christmas, my mom sent out stacks of Christmas cards to almost everyone we knew. And we received a lot of Christmas cards in return. They were all special and we always strung them up for a few weeks over Christmas (they were our decorations).
Every year, we went Christmas caroling. And we baked hundreds of Christmas cookies to put on plates and pass out to all of our neighbors. There were always lots of fun activities over the Christmas season, and even as a child, it was my favorite time of year.
The Amish kids that attend the little one-room schools put on a program every year. They sing Christmas songs, recite poems, and sometimes put on a skit for the parents and whoever wants to come. And one day, the teacher gets someone to hitch up horses and a wagon to take the kids Christmas caroling to any older or sick folks in the neighborhood. Christmas in Amish country is always a very exciting time!
My Family Christmas – How do Amish celebrate Christmas?
There was lots of anticipation in the air on Christmas morning. We got up early and did our chores as quickly as possible. Everybody gathered around for a simple breakfast, which was followed by our daily family devotional time. Only on Christmas morning, our devotional time was even longer than normal. We sang lots of Christmas carols and read the entire Christmas story. We kids got quite impatient for all of this to get finished so that we could get our presents. But my dad wanted to make sure that we understand what Christmas is about. It’s about the birth of Jesus, not presents.
The Amish don’t typically give a lot of presents, but they still enjoy giving gifts. So they usually give something useful and meaningful. We always got a few nice gifts that we could use. And as the family grew we started exchanging names so that we would only have to get a gift for one person instead of so many. Although my parents always got something for each of us.
By the time we were finished opening gifts, it was time to start the noon meal. We had a big feast for Christmas lunch. Typically, we had turkey roast (turkey and stuffing – find the recipe here) mashed potatoes, a few sides along with Christmas Ribbon salad (Ribbon salad recipe here), and desserts. Turkey roast and mashed potatoes seemed to be our holiday/special occasion meal.
After lunch, we played games. My dad and brothers loved playing monopoly, and this game usually lasted till well past time to get the evening chores started.
Christmas was always a very special day spent in quality time with family. Of course, there was nothing about Santa Claus or stockings. Christmas was all about Jesus, food, and family.
Extended Family Amish Christmas Dinner
We got together with extended family on Second Christmas (this was the day after Christmas), on New Years Day, or a Saturday somewhere around Christmas. Everyone brought food, and we had another big feast. We all enjoyed visiting and catching up with each other again. Then we gathered around to sing Christmas carols, and my grandparents gave everyone a small gift.
The Amish put a lot of emphasis on family time. Gathering around the table and sharing a meal is a big part of their time together.
Amish Christmas Lights
The Amish do not put up Christmas lights. That would be too fancy. In their mind, being fancy will cause you to have pride, and they focus a lot on being humble. So they try to avoid having things that would tempt them to become proud.
You will not find many Christmas decorations in an Amish home. We used to set out a few candles with some greenery that we brought in from our shrubs. And that was the extent of our Christmas decorating.
Amish Christmas Tree
The Amish do not put up a Christmas tree. Number one, that would be too fancy. Number two, they take the verses in Jeremiah 10:3&4 to be talking about the Christmas tree. So it is forbidden to decorate a tree for Christmas.
Christmas was kept simple, except for the food. We always had lots of good food with many different kinds of cookies and homemade chocolates. Find my Soft and Chewy Gingersnap Cookies Recipe here. Christmas was a time to give and show love to those around you (and that is what it should be).
Read More About the Amish
I’m sure that many of you remember the tragic incident that took place in Nickle Mines, PA, some years ago when a man walked into an Amish school and killed five young girls. I recently watched the movie on this story. It’s heartbreaking. But I am adding a link to the book, in case you have not read this true story of tragedy and forgiveness.