What is Second Christmas?

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I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Christmas with family and friends or however it is you choose to celebrate. Christmas at my house is usually a quiet affair. We live just far enough away from my family that winter travel can be tricky, so it’s usually just me, my husband, and my son. But to me, quiet time with my family, eating, opening presents, and watching Christmas movies and football is a terrific way to spend the holiday.

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This time of year I get asked plenty of questions about how the Amish celebrate Christmas and which days they celebrate. I can’t speak for Amish all across America, but I have talked with my Amish friends in Lancaster County about their holiday traditions.

Here’s what I know…

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They might not be as elaborate or numerous as the presents we exchange, but they give gifts to friends and family. I was told they prefer gift bags to wrapping paper and their presents tend to be useful rather than extravagant.

Members of an immediate family will exchange gifts with everyone—like a husband and wife will exchange gifts and buy presents for their children–but extended family may choose to draw names like my friend’s family does.

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Second Christmas seems to be one of the more confusing topics when it comes to Amish and holiday celebrations. I’m not sure why. But in order to help you understand Second Christmas, imagine the hobbits in Lord of the Rings and second breakfast. This is the same concept. Another breakfast, another Christmas. (BTW-I looked up second breakfast and Bavaria, Poland, and Hungary actually serve second breakfast! Love that idea!)

Amish families are so large it’s very difficult for them to visit everyone they would like to spend time with on Christmas Day. Second Christmas just gives them more time to visit and be with friends and family.

The children are out of school on Christmas and Second Christmas, then return the following day.

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Old Christmas can go by several names including Three Kings Day, Epiphany, Theophany, and El Día De Los Reyes. (It’s a big celebration among most Latin cultures.) Old Christmas is the last of the twelve days of Christmas and is considered the peak of the Christmas celebration in places like Mexico.

I’m not certain why this holiday has been tagged onto the Amish. I’m sure somewhere out there, a group of Amish celebrates Old Christmas and somehow it has been attributed to all.

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December 26 is Boxing Day in Canada, St. Stephens Day (or Day of the Wren) in Ireland, while Germany, Poland, Scandinavia and the Netherlands celebrate Second Christmas like the Amish. Many Americans will be out shopping today, getting those first after-Christmas deals. For me, twenty+ years working in retail cured me of wanting to shop when stores are busy. Besides, this day has another meaning for me. Today was Bernice, my grandmother’s, birthday. So today I like to spend a little time thinking about her and remembering all those special times. It’s a little like spending the day with family and time I truly cherish.

How about you? How do you manage to visit with friends and family all through the holiday season? Leave a comment below to be entered into this week’s drawing. I have three single copies of The Amish Christmas Sleigh still available.

And as always, thanks for reading!

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Thanks for helping me name my Kish Valley doll. Grace received nearly 50% off the vote! So here she is everyone…Grace from Kish Valley!

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