How the Amish decorate for Christmas, recipe, and giveaway!

Update: This giveaway is over. The winner is Marsha Bashline. Congratulations, Marsha, you have won an autographed copy of The Dawn of Christmas!

October was a beautiful month in many ways, but it’s now gone for the year, and I’m beginning to mull over ideas of decorating for Christmas. Last week’s guest post by Melissa K. Norris got me thinking about Christmas decorations, and I wanted to share an article I wrote about how the Amish decorate for Christmas. Then I have a wonderful new apple recipe that will appear in my April release, Seasons of Tomorrow. My daughter-in-law Erin and her daughter, Lucy, had fun making the recipe, and Erin shared some images with us. If you leave a comment on this blog post, you will have a chance to win an autographed copy of The Dawn of Christmas and a bar of homemade peppermint soap, made by reader Kristin Lail! http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/2013/10/08/oatmeal-and-honey-soap/

How the Amish Decorate for Christmas

Christmas is a sacred time for Christians. Since we know how most Christians decorate for that Holy Day, I thought I’d share what some of my Old Order Amish friends have told me about their decorations.

I’m sure it won’t surprise you when I say that the Amish use almost no decorations. Most Amish consider such “trappings” a distraction from the story of Christ’s birth.

But for many decades they’ve enjoyed making or buying Christmas cards, and they enjoy sending and receiving them. They often hang up the cards throughout their homes as a form of simple holiday trimming. Also, many Amish have traditionally put candles in the window and light them after dark, giving the house a warm, homey feel during Christmastime.

Even the Amish, however, are not immune to change. As the years have progressed, they are enjoying a few more freedoms…and decorations. It is now common for some Amish to place battery-operated candles in their windows, although this wouldn’t take place in several of my Amish friends’ homes.

Most Amish are comfortable putting candles surrounded by wreaths on surfaces throughout the house. But you won’t find a Christmas tree or stockings hanging inside an Amish home. Based on the second commandment, which says not to make any graven image, you won’t find a nativity scene or angel figurines, and definitely no traces of Santa.

Some Amish wrap Christmas presents in beautiful, shiny paper and set them in a special place, like near the hearth, while waiting for Christmas to arrive.

On Christmas Day, most Old Order Amish decorate their kitchen tables for the family’s Christmas dinner, adorning it with candles and greenery. That adds a special festive feel to the day.

Although their homes may be devoid of most Christmas decorations, the Amish enjoy celebrating the season and cherish their own special traditions with their families.

Amish schoolchildren have a Christmas program each year in their one-room schoolhouse. The program usually includes a play of the Christmas story, and the parents, grandparents, and siblings are invited. The Amish also have what they call Zwedde Grischtdaag, which means Second Christmas. Second Christmas is usually celebrated the day after Christmas. Both days are holidays for the Amish. Unlike in our public or private schools, Amish children don’t get even a whole week off. The teacher may dismiss them after a half day of school on Christmas Eve, or she/he may not. But they always get Christmas Day and Second Christmas off before school resumes.

However you decorate for Christmas, I hope you’ll soak in the hope we have through Christ and that you celebrate in a way that fills your mind and heart with Him while making the day a precious memory for loved ones.

frosted window

Apple Oat Scones

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Although, apple season is now winding down, I still have apples on my mind as I am editing the fourth book in Amish Vines and Orchards, Seasons of Tomorrow! This recipe will be included in the book, but I invite you to help me test it out and leave feedback. This recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe. It makes 12 scones that are best enjoyed within 2 days of baking them.

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus some for rolling

1 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, plus some for topping

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 1/2 cups diced granny smith apple (about two apples)

2/3 cup cold buttermilk

Raw turbinado sugar for sprinkling over scones

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl with a whisk. (Flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, salt.) Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender, or by using your fingers until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Add the apples and buttermilk, stirring until the dough just comes together.

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Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Pat dough into two circles, about two inches in thickness. Cut each circle into six wedges. (Twelve scones total) Using a spatula, gently lift scones onto baking sheets, leaving about two inches in between each one. Sprinkle the tops with oats and raw turbinado sugar.

uncooked scones

Bake 20-23 minutes, or until golden brown. After removing from the oven, let the scones cool on the sheets for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Book Giveaway

For today’s giveaway, I am giving away a copy of my newest release, The Dawn of Christmas! And because peppermint is one of my favorite Christmas smells and flavors, I am also including a bar of homemade peppermint soap. To enter to win, simply comment at the end of this post.

If you are reading about this giveaway anywhere other than my website, such as on Facebook, in an email, or on Goodreads, please hop on over to my website by clicking here: http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/2013/11/05/amishdecorate/ and then leave a comment at the bottom of the post under the words “Leave a Reply.”
5-Dawn of Christmas

Only comments left on my website will be entered into the giveaway.

The deadline for this contest is Tuesday, November 12, at noon Eastern Time. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and will be contacted privately, as well as announced on next week’s post.

As always, please remember that all of my giveaways are limited to US residents only. For a complete explanation of the terms and conditions of this giveaway, please go to http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/giveaway-rules/

Helpful info for first time commenters:

  • For your protection against web crawlers gathering your e-mail address for purposes of spamming, please do not put your e-mail address into the body of your comment. Only write it in the field provided. That way only I can see it. Your e-mail address will ONLY be used to contact you if you win.
  • When you leave a comment, you may see a note that says your comment has gone to “moderation.” That means it is in a holding place until either my daughter-in-law or I can approve it. That keeps spammers from being able to post a comment. If you comment while we’re away from our computers, we may not get to it until the next day.
  • The commenter form asks for your name, feel free to only give your first name.
  • Please be sure to type in the correct e-mail address so we can contact you if you win.
  • The third field states: Got a website? This is simply a question. You may leave that field blank. If I could, I’d remove that field, but this is a WordPress comment form, and I can’t hone it to my liking.
  • If you’ve been notified that you’ve won and you’re unsure about giving your postal address by replying to an e-mail, I welcome you to send the name of the item you won and your postal address through the Contact Cindy page of this website: http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/about-cindy/contact/ We keep good records, so we’ll be able to verify your information and get the item in the mail as soon as possible.
  • Please be aware that I aim to get the items sent as quickly as possible, but at really busy times it can take up to six weeks. (I don’t have a staff. But I do have two daughters-in-law who help when they can. But they each have a life and professions not connected to my writing and giveaways. What?! <big grin>
The winner of last week’s blog post that was  titled “A Homemade Christmas and Book Giveaway” and we gave away a copy of Melissa K. Norris’s book A Homemade Christmas is Wendy. Congratulations, Wendy, you have won an autographed copy of Melissa’s book, A Homemade Christmas!

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