By Christine M. Irvin
Amish Holidays do not follow your typical American calendar.
Although the Amish are known as hard-workers, they still take time off from work for various reasons – to rest, to spend time with their families, and to participate in religious activities. However, their schedule of holidays is probably not like most Americans.
Public Amish Holidays
The Amish may be given time off from work , like any other worker, because of a public holiday such as President’s Day or Labor Day, but they don’t usually participate in any public celebrations of the day. They do celebrate New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving. They don’t celebrate Halloween, but they might display un-carved pumpkins and gourds during the fall season for decorations. Some Amish will attend a fireworks display for Independence Day although they don’t formally celebrate the holiday.
Religious Amish Holidays
Many of the Amish’s religious holidays are the same as those for Christians, i.e., Easter, Good Friday and Christmas. Amish children might color egg for Easter, but there won’t be any mention of an Easter Bunny. Likewise, the Amish exchange gifts for Christmas, but they don’t put up Christmas trees and they don’t teach their children about Santa Claus. Christmas is also celebrated on two days, with the 25th as a day of prayer of fasting and the 26th with food and the exchange of gifts. Many Amish also observe Easter Monday, Ascension Day and Pentecost. The Amish also fast in the spring and the autumn on the days before communion, as well as on St. Michael’s Day and Good Friday.
Amish Work Holiday Schedules
The Amish prefer working for Amish employers because the employers are then familiar with Amish holidays. But, sometimes employers who are not Amish but will hire Amish workers. Conflicts can arise when it comes to granting holiday times for Amish workers. The Amish don’t celebrate Memorial Day, Independence Day, or Labor Day, but non-Amish employers generally grant these days as holidays for their employees. However, because the Amish observe Ascension Day, Pentecost Monday, and Fall Fast Day, they don’t like to work on those days. Some employers are willing to compromise and allow their Amish workers to take off for Ascension Day, Pentecost Monday, and Fall Fast Day, in exchange for working Memorial, Independence and Labor Days.
Amish Holidays: Decorations, Foods and Gifts
As mentioned, the Amish don’t put up trees for Christmas, but in some communities, the residents light candles and place them in their windows, thus symbolizing the birth of Christ. Some Amish groups put a nativity scene, called a “putz,” in front of their churches during the Christmas season. And, some of the more liberal groups will even decorate their homes with angels and stars, by placing them over doorways and windows and above their fireplaces.
Amish Holidays: Gifts
When gifts are given during Amish holidays, they are generally made by hand and have some practical use, such as household items for women and tools for men. Young girls might receive rag dolls, books, wooden toys or handmade clothes and older girls might get household items or quilts to put in them hope chests.
Amish Holidays Food
The Amish go all-out in terms of food for Christmas dinner making it an elaborate feast. The meal will probably include roast chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, fruits, breads, salads, and desserts of pies, cakes, cookies and candy. They host similar feasts for weddings.