Do Amish Celebrate Independence Day (July 4th)?

Fireworks and cookouts are the name of the game today. And some Amish will no doubt be participating in one, the other, or both. But as you’d expect, secular holidays take a backseat to church-sanctioned ones in Amish America.

Generally speaking, Amish that are more in tune with the American mainstream (say, by virtue of their occupation, or church affiliation) would be more likely to participate (to whatever degree) in 4th of July celebrations.

The Amish of northern Indiana (Elkhart/LaGrange County and Nappanee communities) – a large chunk of whom work for non-Amish employers in the RV industry, and whose orbits align perhaps a bit more with those of non-Amish America than other Amish – typically enjoy time off on Independence Day.

I recall meeting families in this settlement on the way to the local fireworks display, while living in the area way back in the mid-2000s. Amish moms and kids were as excited to see the show as, say, any family plucked from American suburbia might be.

In truth, Amish observance of both secular and some church holidays can vary by the community. As one commenter observed:

I’ve found that some Amish stores are open on traditional American holidays like July 4th and Labor Day, and some are closed. I had assumed they’d all be open because I didn’t think Amish observed traditional American holidays.

I’ve also found that I need to keep track of Amish religious holidays like Epiphany and Ascension Day. One day a few years ago I drove 50 miles to buy produce at an Amish farm where I often go. When I arrived, there were two sawhorses across the driveway with a sign “Ascension Day — Please no visitors.” So, I learned something new about Amish culture and turned around and went home!

Do Amish display the American flag?

What about that most ubiquitous of American symbols, the flag?  No doubt they will be seen proudly waving on the front lawns of many homes today.

Though Amish appreciate being able to live in a democratic nation, the liberties and privileges they are allowed, and the protection they receive from the state, they rarely if ever engage in explicit displays of patriotism.

Out of the few thousand Amish homes I’ve visited in half-a-dozen states to date, I have yet to come upon one with the Stars-and-Stripes hoisted out front. And I don’t expect to.

Not that Amish do not feel appreciation for their country. It’s likely more a matter of not identifying themselves with a symbol of the world. Then again, you don’t see Christian crosses adorning the exteriors of Amish homes, mailboxes, or front lawns, either. There are probably a few reasons for this.

One might be an inherent humility that says that one should bear Christian witness by actions – rather than through showy displays. Though you could also argue that the physical appearance of the Amish is a type of display in and of itself.

An Amish buggy travels down a back road in northern Indiana. Photo: David Arment

Amish also hold to a “Two Kingdoms” theology, which – in a nutshell – states that there is God’s kingdom, and Man’s kingdom, and that the former takes precedence over the latter. This mindset also influences how many Amish people vote.

In any case, if you happen to run into any Amish at fireworks displays today, ask them how they feel about the holiday. On a related note, each year Topeka, Indiana holds a buggy pull race following the the town’s 4th of July parade.

By the videos posted online, it looks like contestants include Amish youth, both male and female (plus some English folks too), and a mixed Amish and English crowd. Here’s a 30-second clip of the unusual event:

See also:

  1. Which holidays do Amish people celebrate?
  2. Do Amish vote?
  3. 5 Lesser-known Amish holidays

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    1. ülane

      hey man, i’m reading your blog every once in awhile and i just wanted to say that i received a letter the other day from one of my amish customers ruth wagler. it was really great to hear from them 🙂

    2. Ulane, great to hear from you! Shoot me an email if you get a chance.

    3. Joan Sheldon

      Amish on the 4th

      The OO community in Unity, Me does not observe the 4th at all. They do not put out flags, ever, and do not go to parades or fireworks shows. They made their usual Wed am donuts, and their Community store is open today.

    4. Kay

      My Neighbors

      We live out in the country and our new neighbors across the road are Amish. They’re friendly folk. We just got done with our little firework display and all the kids sit outside and watched them. the parents do every few minutes or so too sometimes.


      I love everything about the omish. How they help each other. And are thankful for what the earth gives them .with hard work of course. They live the way I feel God intended us to live. And owe the things the make from home cooked food to building things,to canning, to making and sewing there own clothes and blankets. When they do things. They do it to perfection. Even god was a carpenter.
      And no matter was it is they make and do with there hands. I consider them a perfectionist. Because it comes from there heart. And it’s all so beautiful and breath taking.

    6. Marcia

      July 4 Ana Ascension Day

      An Amish crew is re-siding a house near me and I saw them working today (July 4). They are likely from Lancaster County which is just west of where I live. Also, my grandparents who were Pennsylvania German farmers (Lutheran) always kept Ascension Day as a holy day. It was always treated as a Sunday with no farm work.

    7. Denise

      Whit Monday

      I learned just this year that the Hazleton community in Buchanan County, Iowa observes Whit (Pentecost) Monday. The stores are closed. Since Pentecost occurs 50 days after Easter, being inclusive, Whit Monday is a changeable date.

    8. Central Virginian

      It’s my understanding that the flag is generally not displayed in Amish schools.

      The Biblical basis for not identifying with a particular nation is that one’s citizenship is in God’s Kingdom, as described in Phillipians 3:20, etc. Biblical rules (God’s law) are to be obeyed; and if the civil law is perceived to conflict with Biblical instructions and/or religious beliefs, they will choose to disobey the law, as in Acts 5:29 and other Biblical passages. This way of thinking is an important part of Amish history and remains a part of their culture.