Neighborhood grids of colorful lights, giant decorated trees, and terrifyingly long shopping lists have become American holiday traditions. So it’s easy to forget that some Americans forgo all these annual rituals for something much simpler.
The Amish celebrate Christmas, but in a different way than mainstream culture. They spend December 25 fasting, meditating and reading scripture. Rather than elaborately celebrating, it’s a day of reflection for many Amish. The next day, December 26, is sometimes known as “second Christmas,” more similar to common American celebrations of Christmas. On December 26, the Amish feast with friends and family and exchange gifts.
Gift giving is also different for the Amish. Typically they give one gift to one family member, so the need for shopping for many people isn’t necessary. The Amish try to give a family member something that is useful, like tools, a quilt or a book.
Some traditions may be more familiar. Nativity scenes made of clay or wood are common decorations in households and churches. Families decorate for the holidays with greenery or place candles in the window. Children often put on Christmas programs at school and cookies are made for holiday sweets.
Note- This description of an Amish Christmas is not meant to speak for the entire Amish culture, but rather share common traditions. Every Amish community is different, just like every American family’s celebration of the holidays is different.