Do Amish Celebrate Thanksgiving?


The Amish culture has always been a source of curiosity for the general population. It’s a well-known fact that the Amish are highly devout people, and their way of observing holidays is often different from the rest of society. This makes many people wonder if the Amish celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving. 

The Amish celebrate Thanksgiving much the same way as the rest of the United States does. They spend the day in the company of friends and family sharing a home-cooked feast and being thankful for what they have.

Please note that there are various affiliations among Amish and each of these groups has its own customs and rituals. Consequently, there can be noticeable differences in how different communities celebrate the same holiday. Keep reading to learn more about the Amish way of observing Thanksgiving (and Christmas).

Amish thanksgiving
What do Amish people eat on Thanksgiving? See below

What Is Amish Thanksgiving Like?

Amish Thanksgiving is like a community get-together. It’s a reason for everyone to meet, share a nice meal, indulge in entertainment, and have a good time overall. 

The Amish typically have large families. Thus, they choose to gather at one of the largest homes available. The huge gathering also means that it takes the women of the family a long time to prepare the food. In fact, they spend several days preparing and cooking the meal. 

This may come as a surprise, but Amish Thanksgiving doesn’t always include a turkey. The feast typically contains: 

  • Potatoes 
  • Gravy 
  • Fresh rolls 
  • Stuffing 
  • Dressing 
  • Corn 
  • Squash 
  • Carrots and other vegetables 

Once everyone is done with the main course, they are treated to desserts like cakes, brownies, and different kinds of pies. 

Usually, the guests bring a side item or dessert with them. The gathering concludes with some form of entertainment, such as singing, storytelling, or a game. 

The Amish are hard-working people, and many of them work six days a week. Thanksgiving is like a welcome mini-vacation for them, an excuse to spend quality time with well-wishers, wind down and recuperate. 

However, do remember that Thanksgiving falls in the middle of the Amish wedding season. [1] The Amish usually get married on Tuesday and Thursday, and once in a while, they have to attend one or more weddings on the holiday. When that happens, the Amish skip the Thanksgiving celebration that year. 

Amish Christmas
How do the Amish observe Christmas? See below

Do Amish People Celebrate Christmas?

Christmas is the most important holiday for any Christian, and the same holds true for the Amish communities. 

Amish people celebrate Christmas, though they don’t observe it the same way as the rest of America does. Amish Christmas is devoid of the symbols that have come to represent the day for the rest of the world: Christmas tree, stockings, lavish decorations, and Santa. 

Amish consider these things a hindrance that stops them from celebrating the festival in its true spirit. It’s a distraction that takes focus away from Jesus Christ, his story, and his teachings.   

Instead, the Amish have their own Christmas tradition. Besides Christmas, they celebrate December 26th as Second Christmas. Some communities celebrate the third Christmas, Old Christmas, on January 6th. However, the practice of observing Old Christmas is on the decline now, even among the Amish. 

The Amish take a keen interest in Christmas cards. Children and even adults participate in this tradition of making handmade cards. Every year, they send out a stack of cards to their Amish and “English” friends. [2] Amish refer non-Amish as English.

Besides Christmas cards, Amish people like to exchange gifts with their loved ones. However, they usually prefer to keep the presents simple, useful, and meaningful. 

Christmastide is a great time to be Amish children. Their schools are closed on Christmas and the following day, and they get a chance to enjoy the festival with friends and family. They usually go out caroling and partake in other fun activities. 

Many Amish schools organize annual Christmas programs. Students perform skits, sing songs, and recite poetry. 

Christmas dinner is an integral and vital part of the celebration. The Amish decorate the dining table with candles and greenery, adding to the festive feel. 

Amish people make it a priority to spend time with their family and community. Perhaps that’s why Second Christmas is mainly reserved for visiting extended family and neighbors and sharing a meal. [3] 

Of course, it takes a lot of time to prepare food for so many people. Since most Amish households still don’t use electricity or modern stoves, it only increases the time needed to cook the food.

However, Christmas is such a revered holiday for the Amish that they have two kitchens in their house to accommodate the demand of days like this. [4]  

Thanksgiving food
Do Amish people celebrate the 4th of July? See below

What Holidays Do Amish People Not Celebrate?

Amish people don’t celebrate some of the popular holidays such as Halloween and Labor Day. They also don’t observe any holiday commemorating the freedom movement or military as the Amish believe Jesus Christ has forbidden them from participating in warfare or violence.

Because of this, it wouldn’t be typical to find Amish celebrating the 4th of July, Memorial Day, or Veterans’ Day.  The Amish don’t believe in the concept of “saints” as the Roman Catholic Church does, so they don’t observe All Saints’ Day, Saint Michael’s Day, or other holidays of such kind. 

As mentioned earlier, the Amish are devout people who celebrate festivals that have roots in the Bible or community tradition. In addition to popular holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Good Friday, the Amish also celebrate lesser-known holidays such as Ascension Day and Pentecost Monday. [5]

As far as secular holidays are concerned, Thanksgiving is probably the only one they observe.

However, things are starting to change as the Amish interact more with non-Amish people. For example, nowadays, some Amish attend the 4th of July celebration, usually with their English friends.

More Amish people are involving themselves in wider society for business purposes, so they often have connections outside the boundaries of their own communities. 

Conclusion

The Amish celebrates Thanksgiving just like the rest most Americans do. However, Amish Christmas slightly differs from the conventional way of observing the festival. 

References:
[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source
[4] Source
[5] Source

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see the About page for details.

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