A world that most people do not get a glimpse into, the Amish community is rich with history and tradition. While some people think of the Amish as being people who simply ride in buggies and dress in traditional clothing, the reality is much deeper and more complex than we realize. Christmas time for the Amish is no exception. After a warm invitation from the Amish community, I am happy to report the facts and the findings of my investigation.
Day One, December 25th, Christmas Day
Christmas Day for the Amish is a day of religious reflection on the birth of Jesus. In their rich Christian heritage, they typically celebrate the day of Christmas with prayer, service, and close family time. In addition, the tradition of a Christmas program at the community school is observed with families and specially invited guests coming to see the children perform. This the Amish Christmas Day.
Passed down from their German heritage, some Amish families also display a tree lighted with candles as part of the celebration of Christmas.
The Christmas program is an important part of the holiday tradition. It usually starts with a warm welcome from the children followed by songs and skits celebrating the birth of our Savior. For most Amish communities, this will be the only time the children appear on a stage and perform for an audience. It is an annual celebration for the entire community and it is a beautiful tradition.
One example of the performance is the poem “Ten Little Candles” as seen here, performed by the children with ten lit candles, blowing them out with each line recited by the children:
Ten little candles, Jesus bade them shine,
But selfishness just snuffed one out, and there were nine.
Nine little candles, one without a mate,
Bad companions came along, and then there were eight.
Eight little candles, doing work for heaven,
“I forgot” sat down on one, and then there were seven.
Seven little candles, all with blazing wicks,
Someone cried out, “Goody Boy,” and there were six.
Six little candles, all of them alive,
But one was tired of playing, and then there were five.
Five little candles, once there were more,
Sunday baseball fanned one out, and then there were four.
Four little candles, bright as bright could be,
But one of them just didn’t have time, so then there were three.
Three little candles, could one of them be you?
That one gave up going to church, and then there were two.
Two little candles, our story’s almost done;
“I’m too small, no use,” one cried, and then there was one.
One little candle, left all alone,
It kept on burning by itself, and oh how bright it shown.
Brave and steady burned the flame, until the other nine,
Fired by its example, once again began to shine.
The child with the remaining candle lights the other nine, and the children exit singing, “This Little Light of Mine.”
Other songs and scenes are played out with the children interacting with the intimate audience. The attendees all file out by candlelight into the night to continue the celebration of Christmas.
Day Two, December 26th, Second Christmas
The second day of the two-day celebration in the Amish community consists of visiting family and friends, large meals and get togethers with various community groups. These gatherings may go on through January and February of the following year in some cases. The second Christmas meals are similar in scope to a wedding meal in that they are very large and celebratory in nature. Large meals of traditional German food and family closeness.
This is the brief, but important report of my findings in my investigation of the Amish Christmas. Merry Christmas to all of you, and remember what is truly important this year at Christmas time. Try to focus less on the commercial aspects of the holiday and more on worship, time, giving love and spending happiness instead of money. Wouldn’t that be an Advent Conspiracy? To be just a little more like the Amish?