A few thoughts that have been on tap lately:
  • This blog needs a tagline.  Previously, the description which appeared below the big Amish America title in the upper left was: “Plain Insights and Observations from Pennsylvania to Oregon“.  For a couple of reasons, one of which is length, I’ve abandoned that one and am searching for something new.  It should capture what the site is about but be relatively snappy.  Any ideas?  Feel free to help me out in the comments section.
  • I am working on the Illinois Amish State Guide entry, on the suggestion a couple of you made in the “brain dump” of 2 weeks ago (thank you Amy and Alice Aber for suggesting IL, and all others who offered ideas).  Will take suggestions on the next one as well!
  • Just 2 days until the 5 winners of Sherry Gore’s Taste of Pinecraft Florida Amish cookbook are announced.  If you haven’t entered or would like to read a super interview with Sherry, try this link: Taste of Pinecraft interview with Sherry Gore.  Thanks to Sherry, I now know what a “Fried Alligator Nugget” is (and based on the popularity of Sherry’s cookbook, I expect Florida-area McDonald’s will be carrying a “McNugget” version shortly).
  • Over at the “Amish holidays” entry in the Amish Online Encyclopedia, Marilyn asked a good question about what St. Michael’s Day is, and what meaning it has for Amish.  Thanks to readers David and, fittingly, Michael, for helping to answer.  Depending on the church, St. Michael’s Day is celebrated on different dates in the autumn (Catholics, Lutherans, and Anglicans observe it on September 29th; the Greek Orthodox church on November 8th).  St. Michael, warrior archangel, is in fact a Catholic saint, so Amish celebration of a day devoted to him may seem odd.  Brad Igou at Amish Country News explains a bit more about Amish observance of this holiday.  Amish in fact celebrate the day 2 weeks later than Catholics do, on October 11th. St. Michael’s Day is a holiday with roots reaching back to the Old Continent.  Brad writes that when in Europe “many of the Amish and Mennonites were tenant farmers. Much of the land was owned by the church or aristocrats. Farmers paid a percent of their profits to the landholder every year. The date set by the churches and monasteries in Germany for the farmers to pay their tax was St. Michael’s Day, October 11th. This date fell after the harvest, when the profits and resulting tax could be most accurately assessed.”  Brad explains that many Amish might not be aware of the roots but that St. Michael’s nonetheless remains a special day.  Amish traditionally rest and fast on this day.  Thanks to Brad for this explanation.  And if you haven’t read it yet, Brad recently shared some heartfelt remembrances of Abner, an Amish historian and bookbinder he knew well.  Definitely worth reading.
  • Featured photo: Amishmen inspect an Amtrak train at the station in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Rail travel is a common way for Amish to cross long distances;  could the “Am” in Amtrak really stand for “Amish”? (more on how Amish travel):

amish train

Photo credit: Rob Sinclair

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