Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S ~ Superstitions

Oddly enough, among the different Amish churches, the more conservative the church, the more they believe in superstitions.

My parents didn't buy into any of them, and tried to teach us to disregard them as well, but having all my friends in school believing very strongly in some of them I wasn't totally unaffected. I completely bought into the superstition that if you looked into a mirror while the clock was striking at midnight you would see what you will look like in your coffin. After peeking and seeing my reflection I was sure it meant I would die any day. I wrote a will and everything. My Mom tried talking some sense into me, and I was extremely relieved that the mirror held no power over me, no matter what time of day it was or how many clocks were striking.

Another superstition I hoped was true, was that if a girl stepped on her skirt while walking up stairs it meant she wouldn't get married that year. I was determined to never get married and for several years made it a point to step on my skirt on January 1st.

A lot believe when the chimney of an oil lamp suddenly breaks, it means someone died.

Some communities believe you can tell whether the deceased are in heaven or not by listening to the first shovel full of dirt that gets placed into the grave. If it's quiet everything is okay. If it makes a noise it's the worst.

Others believe if a dish gets broken on the day of a funeral, it means the deceased did not make it to heaven.

If it rained the day before a wedding it meant the groom would have a hard time making ends meet, rain on the day of the wedding meant that they would have all sorts of problems, the day after the wedding meant the bride was going to be a lousy housekeeper.

The first couple a newly ordained bishop marries will have a curse rather than a blessing on their married life.

January the 6th used to be one of the most fearful nights of the year, when evil roamed the land and all sorts of scary things would occur if you ventured out of the house, especially at midnight. I didn't believe it, but at the same time, I wasn't about to check it out to prove it wrong.

Monday, April 21, 2014

R ~ Remedies

Most Amish rely on remedies that have been handed down for generations, some of them really do work, while others have me running in the other direction simply hearing about them.

Of the ones I have personal experience with that actually worked:

Carrot Poultice

Puncture wounds, or deeply embedded slivers. We would grate a raw carrot and place it on the affected area, wrap it and go to sleep, in the morning slivers had been pulled out, and wounds would be well on their way to healing.

It was a cheap, easy remedy that worked wonders.

Oil of Egg

Hernias.  A dozen eggs were hardboiled, the yolks crumbled and then heated until almost a tablespoon of oil was extracted. Extremely smelly to make, but again I saw first hand the healing power of this oil. Dabbing a little oil to the hernia several times a day and it started shrinking and totally healed with no surgery required.


Any bad cuts.  Holding the wounded area in some kerosene will immediately stop the bleeding.


Ear infection. A slice of raw potato placed on the ear will relieve the pain.
A remedy that does not work:

Ear Candles

Thought to remove wax build up from ears.  To any believers I suggest you try this experiment. Light the candle, but instead of holding it in the ear hold it against your hand or some other surface. Results are exactly the same.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q ~ Quilts

The tiny hand stitched, stitching on Amish quilts always looks nice.

Contrary to popular belief, most Amish quilts are not quilted at a community quilting bee. Instead they are often single family projects where a quilt is put in the quilting frame during winter and worked on every day for several weeks until it's finished.

Every once in a while especially if the quilt is a community project, such as the families want to give the teacher a quilt as a token of their appreciation, all the mothers pitch in to help get it quilted by having a quilting bee or two.

A lot of women and older single girls often supplement income by quilting quilts for local Amish quilt shops. At fifty cents a yard you can often earn between $150 to $300 quilting a quilt. Quilts at these shops as you can guess have not been quilted at a quilting bee.

This quilt, I quilted the first winter after we were married. It took me almost a month to get it done.

Friday, April 18, 2014

P ~ Prayer

The Amish have a little black prayer book filled with centuries old prayers, if they want to pray they reach for this book and read a prayer. Praying without this book was viewed as almost sacrilegious and becoming dangerously bold.

Out of the entire book there were five prayers that were used most.

A short prayer that Daddy read every morning, a short one he read at bedtime. Sunday mornings he used to read a longer one, and several times a month he read one two paged prayer that prayed specifically for children. I always felt special when he read that prayer.

Here are the first few lines of that prayer:
Ach Herr! lieber getreuer Gott und Vater Schopfer und Erhalter aller Creaturen! gib uns doch auch die Gnade, dasz wir unsere Kinder in der Zucht und Vermahnung zum Herrn und in aller Gerechtigkeit auserziehen konnen, Du woolest auch unsern Kindern Gnaden schenken und ihnen die Gabe des heiligen Geistes erteilen. Entzunde in ihnen die wahre Furcht Gottes, welche der Weisheit Anfang ist.

Oh Lord! loving faithful God and Father creator and keeper of all creation! give us grace that we can raise our children in nurture and admonition of the Lord in all righteousness. You want to give our children grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Kindle in them the true fear of God that is the beginning of wisdom.

Then there was the prayer used at every church service that took fifteen minutes to read.

A little over half (158 pages) are prayers, and then the articles of faith, rules of a Godly life, and a few poems fill the rest of this 269 page prayer book.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O ~ Ordnung

The rules of an Amish church are called the ordnung

Ordnungs vary greatly from one community to the next. What is accepted in one community could very easily be forbidden in another.

In the community I grew up in hardwood floors were forbidden, and I always admired them when we visited my cousins in a different community. They on the other hand thought having linoleum on a floor would be great but it was against the ordnung in their community.

A few more bits of ordnung from the community I grew up in:
  • Refrigerators were not allowed in the kitchen. They were fine in a pantry, if you didn't have a pantry they often were kept on a porch.
  • Apron belts weren't allowed to be wider than an inch and a quarter.
  • Kapp strings were supposed to be 7/8" wide and had to be tied at all times.
  • Baby blankets used in church had to be black.
  • Little boys had to wear dresses until their second birthday.
  • Stoves had to be black, and refrigerators had to be painted, white was not an option.
  • Sunday evening youth hymn sings had to last two full hours, no talking was allowed during that time, at least one slow church song had to be sung, no harmonizing, and adding a chorus after each verse was forbidden.
  • Hat brims were supposed to be three inches wide.
  • Men's shirt collars were to be buttoned at all times.
This is only a very small sample of the huge stack of rules that governed almost every possible aspect of our life.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N ~ Names

Popular Amish names in the community I grew up in were:

  • Albert
  • Noah
  • John
  • Simon
  • Henry
  • David
  • Mark
  • Bennie
  • Lewis
  • Menno
  • Naomi
  • Ruth
  • Mary
  • Elizabeth
  • Miriam
  • Nancy
  • Emma
  • Esther
  • Martha
  • Malinda
Another interesting fact about Amish names is once a girl gets married she will be called by her husband's first name followed by her name. For example, let's pretend the first names on both lists were to get married, Naomi would now be known as Albert Naomi and if we would want to go visit them we would say we're going to visit Alberts. Adding an "s" to the husband's first name indicates we're talking about that entire family.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M ~ Mending

The day following laundry day used to be a day I dreaded. Every article of clothing had been inspected while being folded the previous day and anything that needed a little bit of mending was placed on a pile to be tackled the next day.

As a little girl I was responsible for replacing any missing buttons on the shirts and pants, while Mom hand stitched patches on the little boys pants, there seemed to never be a week that there weren't holes worn in the knees on a few pair.

The worst of the mending was darning the socks. A light bulb was inserted into the sock that was then stretched over it. A big darning needle and some yarn and we set to work weaving a patch to close the hole in the heels or toes of the socks.

It wasn't fun breaking in a newly darned sock either. The little yarn knots were annoying at the least, more often they could get quite painful depending where they were situated.