How do Amish spend their free time? Amish fill their leisure hours with a variety of activities, including:

1. Board games- Tailor-made to winter days around the kitchen table.  Scrabble, Settlers of Catan, Monopoly are among the favorites.

2. Hunting– A male pastime.  Occasionally females participate as well (more likely if you’re sister to, say, 8 older brothers).

Goldfinch Ohio3. BirdingHunting without the guns. Amish birders rack up large lists of sightings. Wildly popular in some places, less so in others.  On that, Rich Stevick writes: “I also wonder why there are so few avid Amish birders in Lancaster County compared to impressive numbers of Amish birders in Ohio and Indiana, for example. I think I could count on one hand the number of practicing birders in Lancaster Co…I’m still puzzled by this discrepancy so feel free to post your hypotheses.”

4. Yodeling– This is only seen in a limited group of Amish–mainly the Swiss Amish of Adams County, IN.  In the book Plain Diversity, Steven Nolt and Thomas Meyers explain: “They yodel both German-language folksongs, such as “Mie Fater ish a Kahser Zieh” and “Tiggy, Tiggy,” and English-language ballads, including “I left my Gal in the Mountain,” “Blue Moon,” and “Yodel Sweet Molly.” Many of these English lyrics are in the vein of traditional love songs or accounts of desperados-yodels that the church does not approve. The presence of such deviant English songs may be puzzling, but they point to the strength of the ethnic tradition among the Swiss group” (Plain Diversity: Amish Cultures and Identities, p. 62).

5. Auctions– Buy something, eat something, chat awhile.   Family fun, whether you’re 8 or 80.  This past weekend saw the Haiti Benefit Auction in Sarasota, Florida.  A good auction needs a good auctioneer, of course.  The Haiti bid-callers worked in half-hour shifts.  Some can keep it going for many hours, however.  The secret of at least one auctioneer?  A dab of peppermint oil in the mouth from time to time.

What could you add to the list?

Goldfinch photo: Laszlo Ilyes/flickr