“Hello, do I have a twin out there?”
Despite how it may sound, this isn’t a plea for a long-lost identical sibling. The above comes from The Diary newspaper, which features a regular “Twins and Circle Letters” section.
I remember first learning about Amish “twins” when my friend’s wife, whom I had known for around 4 years at that point, and whose family I had come to know and visited, casually mentioned her twin one day. This caught me off guard, to say the least. I thought I would have heard about the existence of such a sibling by now. No she explained, it was someone she exchanged letters with, whom she was unrelated to but happened to share her birthday.
The Diary carries a number of such requests each month. Many come from teens and children. It seems the definition of “twins” includes both people born on the same day, or someone sharing your name. You typically find a twin when you’re younger, and as in the case of my adult friend, you may keep in touch for many years. And some don’t stop at just one.
“Howdy girls. I was wondering if I have more twins. My birthday is January 5, 1998. I found 2 already. Please write to…”
Not all requests are from young people, either: “I always wanted a twin and I was wondering if I have one out there,” writes a 73-year-old resident of Indiana.
In addition to twin searchers, circle letter requests get posted here as well:
“I would like to start a circle letter with girls born in 1998 that enjoy making cards.”
“Do you like to write stories? If you do, you may join our circle letter, any age! Please write to…”
“We would like to start a circle letter with other couples who are doing organic goat farming and gardening.”
“Is there anyone else out there that would like to join our ‘Ellen’ circle letter?”
Letter-writing may be on life support in English society, but it looks to be a lot healthier among Amish, who use the written word to maintain ties across space and time.
In Amish society, connections come about in different ways. Some of them are deep, meaningful, even pre-ordained–formed via family ties, church relationships, or common interests. And as we see here, others come about in the most arbitrary manner–based on your name matching someone else’s, or the particular day you happened to make your first appearance on the planet.
Letter photo: Wim Mulder/flickr