In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share some of the ways the Amish celebrate this day of love. So many times we focus on the ways that the Amish are different from us English folk. Electricity, modes of transportation, even the way we dress. But there are ways that we’re the same!
Annie’s sister, “Carrie,” is sixteen and a member of a youth group in her district. There are twenty-two teens in the group and they are planning a Valentine’s Day party. For Valentine’s Day, the teens have decided to “dress up.” For the girls, this means dressing like their mothers. Instead of a dress and apron, they will wear a dress and a ‘cape’ and an apron. (The cape is a separate piece worn by Amish women over forty. It is a front and back “bib” sort of garment that tucks into the waistband of their apron.) Carrie even has a red dress for the occasion. She doesn’t normally wear red, but today is special. She really stretches the boundaries by foregoing her black socks and shoes so she can wear nude colored knee-highs and flats. Or maybe even high-heels. She hasn’t decided yet. Her boyfriend, “Daniel,” will dress up by adding a bow tie to his normal clothes.
The teens will eat supper at their party, normal food with a small twist. Perhaps tonight they will have meatballs shaped like hearts, or even heart-shaped potatoes. They will eat, play cards or board games, and perhaps sing songs.
They will take a token gift for each of the members in their group—something small like a chocolate heart or individual card. Carrie has a special gift for Daniel: a battery powered light to sit on his desk. It has a light bulb and a shade just like an English lamp. But she will wait until they can be alone before she gives it to him. Maybe on Sunday evening, the time they normally set aside to spend together.
Annie and Carrie have a brother, “Jacob,” who is married to “Lilly.” Lilly and Jacob have three small children and are looking forward to spending time together on Valentine’s Day. They are attending a party at another couple’s house. Their two oldest children, Sarah and Matthew, will stay with a sitter. But since Baby Joy is still nursing, Lilly will take her along. Everyone is expected to bring something to the party. Lilly and Jacob have decided to take snacks: chips and salsa and even some popcorn. The other couples will bring food to round out the meal. Like the teens, they will play cards or maybe board games if time allows.
Maybe the Amish won’t have to worry about getting a table at their favorite restaurant or if they got the right flowers or piece of jewelry for their sweetheart, but they will celebrate all the same. Amish or English . . . love is in the air! Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!