Do Amish exchange Christmas cards?

The short answer is yes. I’m sending out my Christmas cards this week, and will include a number to Amish friends across the country.

Amish don’t do Santa, so I try to choose “neutral” ones, though have sent some with a Christmas tree before.

You can see Christmas cards displayed in Amish homes. One family I regularly visit hangs them from a string, which is pretty common. I have seen these cards still up as late as February. I know some English leave the tree standing well past its due-by date. I guess this is the Amish version of that.

I’m not sure how the most conservative Amish approach this custom.  I am sending most of mine to friends in mainstream communities (Lancaster, Ohio, northern Indiana).  Do Swartzentruber or Nebraska Amish exchange cards?

Amish Christmas CardsIn these modern times, Christmas cards, of course, have an e-version (what doesn’t have an e-version these days, come to think of it).  In a recent discussion I had, this was described as “holiday spam”.  If we can do something in a click or two, why mess around with stationery and stamps?

In a similar vein, I once wondered if anyone still writes letters. For most of us, Christmas cards and postcards are among the few times we still regularly put pen to paper.  It seems fitting Amish would be among those to maintain an “old-fashioned” Christmas card tradition.

Christmas card photo: June Campbell/flickr

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    28 Comments

    1. Lattice

      I write lots and lots of letters, and receive lots of letters, as well.

      Likewise, I send “neutral” Christmas cards to some – like just winter scenes, but some Old Order Mennonite communities in Southern, KY and Tennessee don’t celebrate Christmas at all, not even the “Christmas” that some celebrate in January, so I leave them off the mailing list.

    2. Linda Lewis

      How about a manger scene or “Birth of our Savior” theme? Isn’t that what Cristmas is about?

      1. I would say yes it is Linda. I’ve certainly sent those too.

    3. New York State of Mind

      I send Christmas Cards to my Old Order Mennonite friends and at least the ones I know in New York State send Christmas Cards. I also write letters with pen and ink-but prefer the computer. Some of my friends don’t own computers so I have to write.

      Marilyn

    4. They make their own cards too!

      My wife and I were visiting some Amish friends in Jamesport, Missouri. We stopped by for some coffee and conversation at a time when the family was busy making Christmas cards. They used a variety if handy craft tools to emboss their paper and cutout shapes. The daughters all worked together on the cards while they talked, joked, and laughed. Mom was relaxing with us and the grandchildren. We were fortunate to be a part of this simple Amish ritual. Merry Christmas everyone.

    5. Early in December I observed a teenage Amish girl at the Christmas card area in the Wal-mart in Independence, Iowa choosing, what looked to be, one special card for Christmas. I say that because of the amount of time she spent looking. She was shopping with an older Amish lady, most likely her mother, who had gone off to another area of the store. They would have been from the nearby settlement at Hazleton, Iowa.

      1. Hazleton, IA Amish

        Denise, great anecdote, this may be one example in answer to my question about conservative Amish since this is one of the most conservative communities.

        Generally speaking I think the Amish children are apt to make more careful decisions given that they are (usually) not spoiled to begin with, and given that resources have to be shared among more children. That said, they are probably less wealthy in this Hazleton/Buchanan County IA community and less apt to have a lot of material goods, so yes, every card does count.

    6. Patti

      I would so love to have a few Amish names/addresses to send cards too and hopefully receive some back. I so admire the Amish. Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year. Patti in VA

    7. Carolyn B

      I too like displaying the Christmas cards I’ve received for the season. In college I would tape each to my bedroom door as I received mail. In my home I use the utility door that opens to my living room as the door for card displaying.

    8. Patti

      Mine are on inside of front door, on wall beside it and on end of my entertainment center so far. Love my cards

    9. Claire

      I have an Amish pen pal, and she has sent me a Christmas card this year which had the three wise-men on it.

    10. Patti

      I was given the address of a neighbor of a friend the neighbor is Amish. I sent them a card and hope I sent an okay one. Right now I have no idea what was on the front.

      1. Patti you are probably fine. Amish know we English have different ways, and while they don’t promote some of the same holiday symbols, I don’t think you’re going to offend anyone if your card was very English.

        1. Patti

          Good morning Erik sure hope you are right. Most likely I will find out from my friend if it was one they would not have wanted to get. Merry Christmas and God bless

    11. Anna

      when we were amish manger scene cards and any that had a lion and lamb together were our least favorite. we did not hang them on the wall with the other christmas cards.

      1. Anna, very interesting. Was this because of personal taste, or did it have to do with the representations of Christ? (or some other reason?)

        1. Anna

          I’m sure it differs among amish churches but our community didn’t like nativity scenes because it seemed irreverant and robbed some of the holiness of the season. also part because it was like a graven image.

          1. Thanks for following up Anna, that’s what I was wondering. Interestingly most Amish households have no problem with say Bible story books depicting Jesus and other religious imagery, but they seem more reluctant to display or use the same imagery in ways mainstream Christians do (in church and home).

    12. Bob Rosier (Bob the Quaker)

      I just received a card in the mail from one of my Amish Friends, so yes they do. In her card, she wrote “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. I haven’t heard that before, but a nice thought to remember.

      The card had some typing, but no brand name. I think it was hand made from perhaps a kit?? Or, maybe an old mechanical typewriter?

      Also of interest, on our last visit, this friend said she had the original Land Grant for their farm deeded to her ancestors and has been passed down through the years. It is hand signed by William Penn and included his red seal.

      Merry Christmas to all. Bob
      I

      1. Thanks for sharing Bob. And what a document that must be (the Penn Land Grant, though the card has its own special value I’m sure!) I might generalize here that Amish people seem more conscious of their people’s history than your average Americans. It helps that they have such good documentation.

    13. Sandy

      Amish Christmas card exchange

      The Amish and Mennonite communities that I have ties with are in Pennsylvania/Maryland areas. I do receive Christmas cards and exchange with some Amish and plenty of the conservative Mennonites. I select only those with Christmas scenes such as the manger scene, and have a scripture verse in it, if it doesn’t I write one on the inside of the card. Have been doing this for many years. Also, the statement: Jesus is the Reason for the Season is an old statement but very true for today. As a child we made our cards out of craft paper and my mom would mail them, and in exchange the children I played and chummed around also sent homemade cards. I feel they are special as they are written with a true meaning for the Christmas season. Here at home the town parade theme is Keeping Christ in Christmas and has been that way for many years.
      Merry Christmas and may we all keep Christ in Christmas.

      1. Sandy the homemade card, mentioned by you and others, is the next level beyond the store-bought version. Homemade anything is near impossible to throw away.

    14. Sandy

      Jan 6 is Old Christmas and the Old Order Amish celebrate this day and school is closed.

    15. Alice Mary

      Write on!

      I still write letters (both paper and email) to my pen pal from Ohio (English). We’ve been writing since 1966, when we were still in grammar school (she in 7th grade, me in 8th). I can’t ever imagine giving it up—it’s also an “investment” in sorts, as my husband is a retired Postmaster (36 years with the U.S. Postal Service.) I figure I’m helping to support his pension (the Postal Service isn’t allowed to make a profit, yet they were told in 1970 during postal “reorganization” that they should “run it like a business”).

      I hang up my Christmas cards I receive around the front door, then the doorway to the living room, then the dining room doorway. I send out a LOT of cards—always have. I save old ones to use for crafts, too, although I try not to save more than a year or two’s worth! If I were retired, I’d be making my own. 🙂

      Alice Mary

    16. Jessica M

      I love sending and receiving Christmas cards. Here lately though, it seems far fewer are being sent out (I know I have not received even one yet this year). The Amish seem to hang on to the best parts of our culture long after we English have let it go. I am glad to hear that they enjoy exchanging Christmas cards… and home made ones? Even better!

    17. Al in Ky.

      I visited some Swartzentruber Amish friends yesterday and asked
      whether people in their settlement send Christmas cards. They
      nicely answered, “No we don’t, it’s just not necessary, but we do
      write Christmas letters to several of our close relatives.” This
      was a southern Indiana settlement, so I don’t know if it’s true
      for all Swartz. communities or not.

    18. Amish Christmas letters

      Al, thank you for this note in answer to my wondering above–Christmas letters seems like the perfect Swartzentruber version of cards.

      And on that note, I realize I was over-ambitious on my Christmas card mailing schedule. Got them purchased last week and finally writing them today to hopefully have them all in the mail by tomorrow. I think it still counts as long as it gets there before New Year’s, though not sure if all would agree with me… Actually Old Christmas still gives me time 🙂

      https://amishamerica.com/amish-celebrate-old-christmas/

    19. Do Amish exchange xmas cards?

      You show several different Amish Christmas greeting cards can you tell us where we might purchase these? Thank you Kathleen