Monday, December 23, 2013

Swartzentruber Amish Pt. 3 - Christmas and shunning

I have always seen quite a few Swartzentruber Amish in my home office.  They would hire a driver and come up to our home.  It would be about an hour and a quarter each way.  Needless to say, they weren't very good about coming for many visits.  The drivers were just too expensive.  Now I am at least 30 minutes closer.  Close enough that some could even make a day trip in a buggy for their appointment.  They seem to be happy about our move.  On Monday,  four different families came up.  It was a busy day.

Baby is unwrapped as our house was warm.  They only use a carseat if the driver insists on it.  This driver did.  Baby has a cap on and a scarf over it. Everything is pinned on and together.  The pacifier is part of the uniform.
The interesting thing was that I also had a patient come who had left the Swartzentruber Amish.  Since Shunning is still practiced a lot in this group I wasn't sure how the encounter would go.  I didn't want anyone to be uncomfortable, so I brought the Amish lady in the house (She had to wait two hours for her driver to come back) while the other person had left.  It turned out it would have been OK as they were related and there weren't any other amish around so they could talk.  If other amish had been around, they would have turned their back to her and her children and not talked to them.  This is called shunning.  They are not allowed to talk, eat with or ride with someone who has left their group. So awkward.  But it did work out.  They each asked about the other and wanted to know how things were going.  They were friends before and still cared about each other.

Adult Swartzentruber Woman's going out covering to go over her cap and cape, made from a wool blanket that would be safety pinned on.
I ask a lot of questions while I am giving adjustments.  I learned there are three different types of Swartzentrubers in our area.  The lowest level are called"Weavers", because their bishops are from the Weaver family.  It was interesting to  me that the other swartzentrubers look down on them for being dirty and disrespectful to the English, because they won't put a disposable diaper on their babies/children when in English homes, offices with carpeting or padded furniture.  Frequently, when I adjust their little ones, I do end up with a wet lap.  These levels of legalism also carry over to their education.  The more legalistic the group, the lower the educational standards.  All amish do stop formal education after eighth grade.  They do not spend much time learning history or science.  They have very little knowledge of the outside world as they do not read regular newspapers, only their little amish papers.  The men do buy the newspapers to  learn of sales, and they then will peruse the rest.  I get lots of questions from them about different current events.

Swartzentruber lady's bag.  It serves as both a purse, diaper bag, and snack bag.  They all look the same so all of them have the owner's name on the inside. 
Amish do celebrate Christmas.  But they don't do any decorating, and they definitely don't have a Christmas tree.  The children will do a gift exchange at school.   Parents will make or buy gifts for the children.  Cousin's will often do gift exchanges as well. They may sing carols, but not with any instruments.  It is a quiet day and they will have a big meal.  Something special.  One of the families was going to have 'Haystack' for Christmas dinner.  That is a favorite amish meal.  They often serve it at big gatherings.  Someone will make a big pot of rice and then all the guests bring toppings.  When I have had it, it was almost like a taco dish.  Cheese and meat and tomatoes and onions and veggies and whatever else.  It is tasty.  During the holiday season, there is much visiting back and forth in the evenings.  They can prolong it from Thanksgiving until the middle of January.  It is a great way to break up the winter doldrums.

Swartzentruber baby dressed to go out.  This is not seasonal.  This is how they go out summer and winter.
A Swartzentruber woman's life is very hard.  They are not allowed to use even a wringer washing machine, like the old order do.  They will heat the water outside and boil their clothes.  They have to hang them to dry.  This takes a long time in the winter or in the summer humidity.  The large porches on their houses gives them a place to hang their clothes when there is bad weather.  Some people will leave their clothes hanging for several days, but the neighbors start to gossip and talk if you do it too often.  All cooking is done on a wood or coal stove.  It is so hot in the summer!  There is no refrigeration so anything you want to store long term must be canned.  There are no freezers either so meat has to all be canned too or kept cold in the winter.  They use a lot of traditional methods of food storage that don't require cold.  All the gardening, milking and food storage and preparation falls on the women.  There are no electric kitchen devices, mixing, blending and shredding all have to be done by hand.  Amish men (almost never) help with 'women's work'.

Amish Church is held in people's homes rather than in a specific building.  Every family has to take their turn at hosting church once or twice a year.  They are also responsible to provide a meal for after church.  Your house has to be spotlessly clean for church.  The US Navy's white glove inspection has nothing on the Amish.  Women have to clean for weeks to get ready for church. Ceilings, walls, floors, and everything in between have to be impeccably clean. Families will often get together to help each other get ready.  The meeting may be held in the house or the 'shop'.

Blackberry Pie gifted to me from an Swartzentruber patient

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Thanks for reading my blog!  Feel free to leave a message.

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