Monday, December 26, 2011

Amish Second Christmas and the Value of Friendships

Today, December 26th, is Amish Second Christmas. When I first heard of this extra day of celebrating, I thought it was a day to recoup from having so many guests on Christmas Day. I imagined the Amish taking a day to just sleep and relax. But the Amish live very intentionally, and this Second Christmas is spent on something Outsiders would find surprising: going out with their “Amish Gang”.
Yes, I used Amish and gang in the same sentence, which seems like an oxymoron.  We think of gangs in a negative way, but think back to when you were a kid and you hung around with a neighborhood gang. That’s exactly what the Amish encourage their youth to do…form lasting friendships. Since many go to the same one-room schoolhouse, they have friends since childhood. But during the teen years, Amish youth are encouraged to get together all the more. Rumspringa actually means “running around” and it’s a misconception that they through off their Amish ways during this time. On the contrary, they strengthen them in forming bonds that will last a life-time, called Buddy Gangs.
So, the day after Christmas Day, these long-time friends get together. It’s a day to celebrate their friendship. I find this so heartwarming in a culture where “time is money”. The Amish are saying “time is friendship”.  The Amish find instruction to intentionally nurture friendships from the Bible.  With such verses as:
 A man who has friends must himself be friendly. (Proverbs 18:24a NKJV)
 Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel. (Proverbs 27:9 NKJV)
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (Proverbs 27:17 NLT)
As I sit her, recouping from Christmas, I’m thinking how I can intentionally nurture friendships. The Amish always give me more to think about…

I wrote this little book to explain Amish customs around Christmas and share what I learned on toning down the Christmas chaos. 

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