In a previous post on Amish wall decor, reader Kate had this to say on visiting an Amish friend’s home:
I realized that I could see six picture calendars from where I was sitting in the kitchen [featuring] horses, barns, lighthouses, bluebirds, and wildflowers.
It’s true, as Kate’s example suggests, that Amish are partial to calendars. Amish generally don’t display art for its own sake. But practical items that are also decorative are another story.
Popular among Amish are calendar images of nature, outdoor scenes, and animals. These may be photos, paintings, or drawings.
Keith James, who works closely with Amish craftsmen in the Midwest, discussed the prevalence of calendars in Amish homes:
…they are in every room, and sometimes several in one room. I have a pair of photos I took during my recent visit. In the first photo you can see the dining room table and there are three calendars visible. I turned around on the spot to take the next photo of the adjoining kitchen area, in which you can another photo. At least one of the calendars is from us, featuring nature scenes from California. The others are either nature-related or feature horses. In years past I’ve seen “hillbilly” calendars with comic scenes hanging in their kitchen…
I don’t recall ever seeing a zip code calendar, but birthday calendars are in almost every home. They list the birthdays of the most immediate family members. I took a photo of one from my March trip that has 106 birthdays listed.
The photos below, taken in Mark Curtis’ home, show two types of calendars. The first is a “perpetual calendar”, so called because with a little shifting of wooden blocks it can be used, in theory, in perpetuity.
The second is of a more traditional style, in a wooden display frame. They are often produced and given away free by Amish businesses, though I’m not sure of the origin of this one.
What about calendars featuring photos of Amish people? Eli S had this to say:
Visiting with my brother who is Amish, he pulled out one of those Amish picture calendars by Doyle Yoder and asked me if I could pick him out in a barn-raising photo. Which I then did.
You may think they would all be offended by the photos, but they will buy the calendar for the photos, and then not hang it up. The same thing applies in magazine photos. Offended people would not cluster around to see themselves in photos. Clearly they enjoy those great pictures of themselves, but not on an official level.
Amish appreciation for calendars runs deep, according to Lee Jay Stoltzfus:
Here in Lancaster County, PA, vintage picture calendars command high prices at Amish household auctions because Amish bidders compete for them like fine art objects.
It is often the Amish men who bid on these colorful calendars, so the antique calendars with hunting scenes or wildlife images often sell for big bucks.
So if you have a 1920s calendar published by Winchester Rifle Company, sell it to an Amishman. It will make him very happy!
Calendars are something you’ll find in even the plainest Amish homes–though they might not look quite like the others. Kristen shared the following on calendars in one of the most traditional Amish communities:
We were at the Ethridge, TN settlement yesterday and my son asked about the plain calendar hanging in an Amish workshop. The Amish man said they didn’t allow any sort of pictures in their group. (Swartzentruber). He said it got so hard to find plain calendars that he finally asked his local bank to have them made especially for the Amish. So the bank produces these special calendars with a few word-only ads, but no pictures.
Thanks to all the readers whose calendar comments helped put this post together today.