Amish observe a variety of religious holidays, and some public holidays as well

amish holidaysAmish appreciate time off just as any other Americans do, in order to rest, spend time with family and for religious observation.  The Amish holiday schedule differs somewhat from that of the typical American, however.

Public holidays

Amish generally do not celebrate public holidays, though may be granted days off from work depending on their employer.  Amish do recognize Thanksgiving as well as New Year’s Day.  In some settlements Amish might take in fireworks on the Fourth of July, for example.  Amish do not observe  Halloween, but may display decorative pumpkins (uncarved) and gourds during the autumn months.

Amish religious holidays

Among religious holidays, like other Christians, Amish celebrate Christmas, Easter, and Good Friday.  Additional religious days observed by the Amish include Easter Monday, second Christmas on December 26th, Pentecost, and Ascension Day.   Pentecost, Easter Monday, and second Christmas may not be celebrated in all communities (Enterprise, Kraybill/Nolt).

amish christmas

Horses wait outside an Amish school during the annual Christmas program

Amish typically do not have special church services on Easter Sunday or Christmas, for example, but will cover the appropriate parts of Scripture during the Sunday service closest to those days.  Amish undergo fasting the day before communion in spring and autumn.  Good Friday and St. Michael’s Day are days of fasting as well.

Amish exchange gifts at Christmas, though they do not put up a Christmas tree or teach children about Santa Claus.  Some Amish schools may put on an annual Christmas school program.  At Easter, Amish children may color eggs.

Work holiday schedules

Amish appreciate working  for Amish employers, who follow the same holiday schedule and may grant employees time off for weddings.   In Amish Enterprise, Kraybill and Nolt describe the schedule of an Amish entrepreneur who employs both Amish and non-Amish workers.

Among other free days, non-Amish employees are given time off for Memorial Day, July Fourth, and Labor Day.  In place of these holidays, Amish are exempt from working on Ascension Day, Pentecost Monday, and Fall Fast Day.

In some communities, for Valentine’s Day Amish children may exchange cards and candy, or adults may have a special dinner.

For further information, see:

Amish Society, John A.  Hostetler

The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill

Amish Enterprise: From Plows to Profits, Donald B. Kraybill and Steven M. Nolt


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