Christmas for Michigan’s Amish community

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dresses-shopping
12/25/2011
Christmas for Michigan's Amish
community
We all know that is absolutely that Christmas
trees in Christmas day, but if you think so
then you are wrong.
CLARE, Mich. -- There's no Christmas tree. No lights
or glittery display outside the house. No little girls
in special beautiful Christmas dresses or little boys
wiggling in new Christmas suits. There's definitely
no Santa Claus and maybe not any gifts.
But Christmas for Michigan's Amish community
is filled with food and cheer. The highlight of the
holiday will be stories and discussions about the
religious meaning of Christmas, as the extended
family gathers on Christmas Day.
"We have the quiet way of honoring Jesus coming,"
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The Amish people are known for their simple way of
said Simon Miller, of Clare. "Nothing to be seen by
living, and reluctance to adopt many conveniences
men, nothing to bring glory to ourselves."
of modern technology.
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The Amish are sometimes called the Plain People
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Christmas is the biggest holiday on the Amish calen-
because of their traditional signatures -- the horse-
dar and Michigan is home to 11,000 Amish, one of
drawn buggy and nondescript clothing of men in
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the largest populations in the country. But in kee-
dark suits fastened with hooks instead of buttons
ping with the Amish way, it's a simple Christmas for
and women in floor-length dress.
simple folks -- and an about-face from the Christmas
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excess that abounds in so many households this
But they don't talk much about it. Most don't have
time of year.
telephones, although some share a phone with one
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or two other families.
Many Amish won't pose for photographs, conside-
ring that a form of vanity.
Most live off the grid, avoiding commercial electri-
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city. Amish children usually attend an Amish school,
and only until eighth grade.
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dresses-shopping
12/25/2011
Christmas for Michigan's Amish community
But the Amish embrace their uniqueness as a way
of protecting their people from what they believe
to be outside corruption.
Church is celebrated regularly, but instead of buil-
ding a facility, the members will meet in the house
of a member of their group.
"They have a strong sense that their church should
be separate from the world," said Steven Nolt, a
professor of history at Goshen College in Indiana
and one of the authors of "Amish Grace, How For-
giveness Transcended Tragedy." "So their dress,
the way they interact with non-Amish neighbors,
their nonuse of technology both separates them
from mainstream society and also bolsters their
own sense of community."
Not surprisingly, this time of year when many are
putting up their holiday decorations or shopping
It's also an expression of how they believe they
for gifts, the Amish take a plain view as well. For
should live.
the Amish, Christmas is quiet and gentle holiday, an
observance rather than a celebration, with family
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"Their celebrity dresses is an expression of simpli-
and religion as the centerpiece.
city and humility and modesty," Nolt said. "It is a
symbolic marker, a demarcation between the Amish
"Our way of celebrating Christmas is to sit and read
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and their non-Amish neighbors."
with the children and tell them the story of how Jesus
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came to Earth through the Virgin Mary and how he
The Amish practice a conservative form of Chris-
shed his blood for us on the cross, as a family talk
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tianity that dates to the late 17th century, when a
about what Christmas means," said Simon Miller
group of Swiss Anabaptists -- dissenters from the
of Clare.
Catholic church -- split off from the Anabaptists
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and followed Jacob Ammann.
There will be gifts in some Amish households but
any gifts will be useful.
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The majority of American Amish live in Michigan,
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin. The
"One year I got a stepladder," Miller said. "The chil-
group is growing, with the Amish population na-
dren get clothes or something they need." Younger
tionally roughly doubling every 20 years, Nolt said,
children may also receive a second gift, perhaps a
thanks to their large families and that 85% of those
toy or storybook, he said.
born to Amish parents remain in their faith as adults.
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"It'd be something that makes for their imagination.
Oh, we'd give a little tractor or something like that,"
Miller said.
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dresses-shopping
12/25/2011
Christmas for Michigan's Amish community
And there will be Christmas dinner. It typically
consists of turkey, and may include what Miller calls
"Christmas pudding," a layered mixture of cream
cheese and red and green gelatin.
And despite not putting up Christmas lights of their
own, the Amish may well enjoy the lights of others.
"We don't want to be judgmental," said Aaron Miller,
a deacon in the Old Order Amishwho is not related
to Simon Miller. "The children enjoy looking at the
lights, but to us, that's not the meaning of Christmas.
We focus on the religious part of it."
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Dress up for yourself and enjoy your holiday!
Much more you need to think in this Christmas
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