Many folks think the Amish are sober, quiet and reading their Bibles if they have nothing else to do. I thought it might be interesting to share with you the fun side of how I know the Amish to be.
Not only do Amish enjoy a good joke, often at their own expense, they also enjoy playing tricks on each other. A favorite one is to have an unknowing victim believe they are a part of the plot on another “victim.” They pull the unsuspecting victim into the kitchen, place a tablespoon of flour in their mouth and tell them to blow it in the fake victim’s face when they come around to ask them a question. Well, everyone takes their time asking their questions and by the time the person asking the questions gets to the person with the flour in the mouth the flour has turned to paste and the unsuspecting victim finally gets it that the joke was on them.
Games are big among most Amish families. You will always have the one person who does not enjoy playing games, but most Amish enjoy a good, competitive game. Adults in big groups will play games like Charades, Pictionary, Apples to Apples. The list is long of what kinds of games Amish like to play. Sorry, Life, Monopoly, Clue, Battleship, Settlers of Catan.
Some Amish believe it is wrong to play cards. Some draw that line with Euchre cards. Euchre is considered the devil’s game because of some of the symbols on the cards and you can gamble with them. Others believe Rook cards are fine to play and you will find some of the best Rook players among the Amish.
Some areas even have Rook tournaments in the winter. The nights are long and a good Rook tournament makes the winter blahs fade away. Ping Pong tournaments are also a norm. In the summer there are volleyball tournaments. In the winter there is ice skating and hockey. Some areas get really competitive on the ice. There is a community in New York where a family built a large pond so they have a place to ice skate and those folks are really serious about their ice skating. They have times in the day slotted out for the girls to come skate, then the boys and lastly the adult men and boys gather for a good game of hockey. In that part of New York they don’t have much outside work in the winter months because they are mostly snowed in, but can still walk to the pond and get a good skate in.
Families like to go camping and in recent years many of them have started to host their family reunions around campfires. Oftentimes they will get together on a Friday night and everyone can bring their own food to make over the campfire. Whoever wants to pitch a tent and stay the night may do so. The next day the non-camping family members arrive for the reunion. The reunions are carefully organised so there is enough hot and cold food to go around.
The Amish love to vacation and the bus and train companies are often a key for them to get a good vacation in. Green Country Tours is one local company who provides elaborate vacations and those buses are often filled up with Amish folks from Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. I know Amish who have traveled to Alaska, Maine, Nova Scotia, Canada, and just about every other far corner of our continent. The New Order Amish are allowed to fly via airplane and they are known to go on missions trips to countries like Bolivia and Haiti.
Some Amish couples will find 4-6 families to vacation with, usually couples they ran around with before they settled down. Oftentimes they are younger with only a child or two each and will rent an elaborate condominium or house with enough bedrooms for each couple. They take a week out of their year and get away from it all on some wonderful beach far away from Amish Country. They go swimming and lay out in the sun and watch movies after dark. It is their time to let go of the strict rules and enjoy their vacation to the fullest.
Children enjoy popular games and toys just like English children. They have game-boys and battery operated gadgets. The girls have dolls with faces to play with. There are a few sects of Amish who still use the faceless dolls but for the most part that has gone by the wayside. Tonka trucks and Lincoln Logs for little boys. Play-sets can be found in many young Amish family’s yard. Trampolines are a hot item for families with children too. Trikes, bikes and scooters are a staple for Amish children to have, they can run errands for mom and dad with those bikes and scooters. How much they have and do depends on which sect of Amish they belong to and what the parents want or can afford for their children.
The Swartzentruber sect of Amish is stricter with their adults and only the children are allowed to play games. The games they play are homemade games made with buttons and homemade boards. They aren’t allowed to have campfires to sit around because that is how the “south people” do. The south people are the Old and New Order Amish. At one time the Swartzentruber sect of Amish didn’t live as close to Holmes and Wayne counties as they do today. They lived north of here and so the Amish here were considered the “south people” and are still called this by the Swartzentruber sect today.
The Amish lifestyle isn't for everyone, even I, growing up Amish never wanted to be Amish, but I love so much about the Amish ways, especially the way many of them make time for family and when the family gets together they go to great lengths to make sure everyone is engaged in fun activities in some way. Maybe this post will inspire some of my readers to set up some kind of fun tradition of their own or to be mindful of getting out games at their next family get together.