In anticipation of February 14th, I passed this question along to John Stoltzfus:
Do Amish people do anything for Valentine’s Day? What are some ways they observe the day?
John’s response hints of differing attitudes about Valentine’s. The usual caveat about Amish being different in different places applies:
Valentine’s Day is a special day for our family, however in the last 10 years even the Amish try to be “politically correct” by discouraging any Valentine’s celebration, especially in the schools. The biggest reason is to create a barrier and control boy – girl relationships that “could” occur at a small age and in my mind is a huge mistake based on seeing how certain decisions have played out. The reason some parents discourage the Valentine’s Day activities is all based on a sexual view and especially anything that would mention “You’re Mine”, “I Love You” “Be Mine” , which some parents look at as “condoning intimate relationships”, etc.
In our school the children usually exchange decorated lunches and also exchange Valentine cards etc. The youth couples have always exchanged heart-shaped candy boxes etc.
I would guess there are a lot of grandparents that have kept their Valentine cards with their school paraphernalia. We would still have ours if we wouldn’t have lost them in a house fire 11 years ago.
Our family celebrates Valentine’s Day, where my wife and I go out for dinner with one of our close English friends. At home my wife started a tradition over 20 years ago cooking a Valentine’s Day supper and everything is pink or red, yes that includes the food, at first it was difficult getting pink corn, pink gravy, pink mashed potatoes and whatever else is cooked or made for dessert past the eyes and into the mouth.
I asked John one follow-up: If an English fellow forgets Valentine’s Day, he is in big trouble with his lady. Is that same expectation there for Amish?
Definitely for the majority I forgot to add that
John Stoltzfus is a father of five and member of a Pennsylvania Old Order Amish community. John works in product design for a local farm supply company. In his spare time he creates computer-generated art, which you can view at Stoltzfus Digital Abstract Art or on Facebook.
Valentine’s candy hearts: morag riddell/flickr