Amish Olde Christmas

Greetings! I hope you enjoyed a meaningful and memorable Christmas. Reading my last post and seeing the family pictures, you can see that we did!

Did you know some Amish observe January 6 as Olde Christmas? This day is respected by rest, fasting, solemnness and, for the strict Swartzentruber order, no sex between married couples. Seriously. It's part of their Ordnung.

Amish businesses are closed, and their workers as well as scholars (school children) have the day off.

How in the world did this date get its name? Well, a bit of history explains -- January 6 was the old-calendar Christmas. In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII lopped off
  • ten days,
  • eleven minutes, and
  • fifteen seconds
from the calendar to realign it with the seasons of the year. Consequently, Christmas moved from January 6 to December 25. At that time, Catholic Europe adopted his new Gregorian calendar. Protestants weren't as thrilled to adopt this new calendar.

While commemorating Olde Christmas, Amish eventually adopted December 25 as Christmas. However, Olde Christmas is regarded as the holier of the two days.

Author Ira Wagler blogged about growing up Old Order Amish and their way of recognizing January 6. His memory is interesting - haunting - and adds depth to this Amish tradition.

For the rest of us, I say "Happy New Year!" and return (or subscribe to receive) more rare, accurate information about the Amish.
If your group, club, library, church, or school is interested in having me come speak about the Amish, email me for a date: speaker2parents(@)juno.com
UPDATE:  I'm currently booking presentations into April 2016.

(c)Copyright, 2014. Brenda Nixon


  1. Happy Olde Christmas Brenda! Do not put a comb under your bed. Fascinating information in article and comments by Ira Wagler! Ellie Wood

    1. Thanks Ellie. What's the comb under the bed thingy about? A superstition?
      Yes, Ira Wagler (OOA) always shares interesting info.

    2. You'll wake up at midnight and see the devil... superstition!

    3. Oh my, I've not heard that one. Well, I keep my brush in a drawer :~)

  2. Very interesting . I never knew about January 6th Here Ive been having Christmas on the wrong day for 62 years !!!!!!!!!!

    1. You picked a short post and I'm glad you learned something new about the Amish. Thanks for reading and welcome back anytime.

  3. I remember in post you wrote about education and how the Amish you know don't really know a lot about their history because they don't feel it very important. Is that all history or does that include their own history as Amish people. When did their society decide to not move forward with technology? To not change their language? Things like that? Do they know or is it just what they have always done so it is just what they continue to do?

    1. Thanks for your curiosity Emma. Here are your answers:
      (1) yes, both. No U.S. or world history & no cultural/religious history.
      (2) don't know but guess around the turn of the 20th century
      (3) the language was brought over from Europe,
      (4) in most cases, the Amish I know tell me it's just the way they've always done it. Tradition is highly valued.