Amish Cook: Valentine’s Supper & Secret Sisters

In her latest column, Amish Cook Gloria Yoder describes the tradition of “Secret Sisters” in her community. This was tied to a Valentine Supper which is something you’ll see among Amish.

Gloria first describes the Secret Sisters custom:

Last night I was the recipient of the absolute kindness of the dear youth girls in our church. Really now, they all made a huge splash for us married ladies. For the past six months, they each had one of us married ladies as a secret sister, giving gifts every month or two.

Sounds like a great way to show kindness and a lot of fun for both sides. Gloria describes the evening and an additional “secret” waiting for them on the table:

Last night, they hosted the most memorable Valentine supper and revealed which girl had which married lady. We were all ushered downstairs to the basement upon our arrival, where tables were set and attractively decorated. A long elegant runner was placed in the tables’ center with candles, chocolates, and a large bouquet of flowers. No, not flowers; a closer look revealed the secret. It was a bouquet of cupcakes, frosted with swirly white filling, resembling flowers. Between the cupcakes were folds of pink tissue paper. It was beautiful, in fact stunning. Thanks to the very talented girls who took the time to add all these little touches, making the occasion special for everyone.

And then the guessing part:

The fun part of guessing who your secret sister was, came next. The girls all stood in a group while we ladies took turns guessing who may have had our name. Now, I thought I had a good idea of who had my name, but they did out-smart me. Knowing that I was suspicious of the one who had me, they worked together, detouring my ideas.

Come to find out, it was Julia’s teacher, Carolyn, who has been showering me with gifts and acts of kindness these past months. Laughing, I told Rhoda that since I was thinking it was her, I really had so many loving thoughts about her! “Well, it now all gets shifted to Carolyn!” she said, chuckling. At any rate, the children and I have had so much fun opening packages from her.

As for Valentine’s Supper, here’s a description from John, an Amish friend of mine from Lebanon County, PA:

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’ve been to a Valentine’s Supper once with Amish friends – we didn’t have the more intense version John describes here with pink and red foods, but the dessert at least was Valentine’s-themed. John also shares some other ways Valentine’s Day is observed in some Amish communities, including in schools.

Image: Neffi Cupcakes

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