Category Archives: Amish

Amish Nicknames

Some visitors unfamiliar with the Amish see their conservative dress and lifestyle and, for some reason, think the Amish are a serious, austere group of people who rarely smile or laugh. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Our Amish friends love to laugh and joke, and their sense of humor is especially exhibited in… nicknames.

One category of nicknames derives from physical or personality traits. Examples are Big Ben, Brownie Eli, Black Sam, Chubby Jonas, Skinny Davie, Porky Dan, Shorty Abner, Toey Steve, and Limpy John. The color of their hair or beard gave the names to Red Elmer, Pinky Eli, Sandy Crist, and Whitey Manuel. I especially like “See More Sam,” whose eyes were set wide apart.

Perhaps more interesting are names based on personality. “Balky John” was stubborn; “Boom Daniel” liked to bellow loudly; “Lummicks Amos” was clumsy; “Coonie Jonathan” liked to hunt; and “Doggie Aaron” loved dogs. An Amish friend informed me that “Coonie’s son married Doggie’s daughter.”

Another set of nicknames comes from funny or memorable incidents associated with a person. “Gravy Dan” earned his nickname because “at a threshing dinner he once poured gravy instead of cream in his coffee.” Another Amishman received the name “Stover” because he once moved a stove from one farm to another, and charged for the service at both ends! “Slinky” got his name from when he played baseball in the schoolyard and scrunched himself down like a slinky when he was at bat. And then there is “Pepper Yonnie,” who got his name when he put some pepper on the heat stove after a hymnsing, and made people sneeze. He apparently cleared the room!

Occupation often figures into a nickname. ”Butter Jake” made and sold butter, “Elevator Ike” invented a farm elevator, “Crusher John” worked in a stone quarry, “Jockey Joe” traded horses, and “Lawyer John” seemed to have skills in legal matters, even though he was not a lawyer.

Then there was “Chicken Elam,” who owned a chicken farm, and “Chickie Dan,” who worked for him. “Cherry John” used to sell cherries, but was known as “Butcher John” when he had that occupation. “Junkie Jake” likes to buy and sell antiques and collectibles. And of course, “Horseradish Sam” gets his name from selling ground horseradish in jars.

The newest name I learned about had to do with an Amishman who milks Dutch Belt cows, which are black cows with a white “belt” running down their middle. Because these cows are black with white in the middle, the farmer has gotten the name of (what else?)… “Oreo Alvin.”

Visiting the Amish Village

When I was six years old, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than by hanging out with animals, especially horses. I jumped at any chance I got to see them. And of course, like most young kids, I loved learning about new things from a hands-on experience. Well I’m not a child anymore (though my older, wiser siblings might disagree with this), but as an Aunt to five wonderful nieces and nephews, I have the opportunity to see their faces light up when running around a playground or petting a live animal much like mine did at their age. So when I got the chance the visit the Amish Village, I thought it would be fun to take my oldest nephew, Silas, along for the ride!

Strolling through the Village

When we first arrived at the Amish Village, Silas and I were greeted by a friendly staff member who assisted us in a quick registration before directing us to the Village. We were free to explore many different buildings that are part of their Amish community. Silas thoroughly enjoyed feeding the horses and roosters in the barn. And I loved that we were free to visit each area of the Village at our own pace. There were always staff members available to answer any questions we had about a particular tool or building but no one made us feel rushed. Silas and I checked out a real Amish buggy and got an up-close look at Amish farm tools and equipment in the blacksmith shop. After snapping a few photos in the Village, we headed toward the property entrance to meet our driver for the backroads bus tour.

 Our Backroads Bus Tour Excursion

While the animals may have been the highlight for my nephew, the bus tour was my favorite part of the visit! Our tour guide was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. She took us to parts of the county I had never seen before—and remember, I am Lancaster born and raised. We stopped at an Amish bakery along the way as well as a small Amish farm that sold handmade crafts and homemade snacks. I couldn’t resist a pint of fresh-squeezed lemonade for the ride. It was delish! We saw children riding through cornfields on carts pulled by miniature ponies, we passed buggies, and we drove through the rolling hills of Lancaster County’s countryside for about 90 minutes. It was quite picturesque, and everyone on the tour thoroughly enjoyed the experience. NOTE: The backroads bus tour is not recommended for children under five.

After we arrived back at the Amish Village, Silas and I decided to take one last look around the grounds. It was neat to see what an Amish schoolhouse looks like from the inside—Silas was very intrigued by the reading and math exercises displayed on the chalkboard. We made sure to check out the water wheel during our visit as well. Did you know that even today most Amish farms use a water wheel and windmill to operate a pump that provides water to animals in the barn? Fascinating stuff!

Planning Your Visit to the Amish Village

If you’d like to experience an authentic Amish property, Silas and I recommend visiting the Amish Village. It’s a great place for both kids and adults to learn in a fun, hands-on environment. They even offer a 25-minute farmhouse tour in addition to the bus tour we were on. You can find all of their tour package information and rates on the Amish Village website. Experience how the Pennsylvania Amish really live today!

Emily Long is a Lancaster County native, singer/songwriter, and all around music lover. She is an Online PR Specialist and, on the side, works at her family’s business, Long’s Horseradish, at Lancaster Central Market. To learn more about Emily, visit her website: www.EmilyLongMusic.com.

Emily Long is a Lancaster County native, singer/songwriter, and all around music lover. She is an Online PR Specialist and, on the side, works at her family’s business, Long’s Horseradish, at Lancaster Central Market. To learn more about Emily, visit her website: www.EmilyLongMusic.com. – See more at: http://padutchcountryblog.com/pedal-preserve-lancaster-county-farms/#sthash.yrgaTAWZ.dpuf
Emily Long is a Lancaster County native, singer/songwriter, and all around music lover. She is an Online PR Specialist and, on the side, works at her family’s business, Long’s Horseradish, at Lancaster Central Market. To learn more about Emily, visit her website: www.EmilyLongMusic.com. – See more at: http://padutchcountryblog.com/pedal-preserve-lancaster-county-farms/#sthash.yrgaTAWZ.dpuf

FAQ about the Amish

Below are frequent and interesting questions we, the Visitors Bureau, are asked by visitors to Lancaster County. Have you ever wondered about the answers to these questions?

Q: Do you have electricity?
A: Yes, most of us in Lancaster are not Amish.

Q: Are you Amish?
A: No.

Q: Can I become Amish?
A: Sure, but it’s not easy and it’s less appealing once you know all that’s involved.

Q: Can we drive in Lancaster County?
A: Yes.

Q: What type of clothes do we need to wear when we visit?
A: Your normal, everyday clothes are fine. However, you may want to check the weather report to be sure you’re dressing comfortably.

Q: Are motorcycles allowed?
A: Yes, and we even have places you can rental motorcycles for the day.

Q: Where is Amish Town? What is the fee at the gate to get into Amish Town?
A: There is no such thing as Amish Town. The Amish live throughout Lancaster; they live, work, and play among us.

Q: Do you have hotel or motels in your area? Are we able to stay overnight in the area?
A: Yes, of course! Check out our extensive list.

Q: Can I have an water front room?
A: Only if a small lake counts. We are not near the ocean. The largest body of water in Lancaster is the Susquehanna River.

Q: Can I meet or will I see Lebanon Levi?
A: No. All the Amish reality shows on TV are actually fake. Sorry.

Q: Can you give me an address to find a covered bridge?
A: No. You’ll just have to follow directions or look at a map.

Q: Is there really a town called Intercourse?
A: Yes. Click here to learn its history.

Q: Can an Amish horse and buggy to pick me up at the train station and take me on a tour of Lancaster County?
A: No, but you can take a horse and buggy ride or a guided tour, visit a replica of an Amish Village, and walk through a replica of an Amish home. Click here to see more.

To learn more about the Amish, click here.

Where the grass is greener

One of the best parts of my work here is getting to talk with many of the Amish who live nearby. Recently, I stopped by the home of an Amish mother. Most of her children are grown now. We talked about the struggles of raising children today. While the challenges are different in our two worlds, there is more shared concern than one might imagine.

Our conversation led to the cell phone and the internet. She professed to be unfamiliar with both to a degree, but knowledgeable enough to know how they tempt young people today, whether Amish or not… and the concerns these technologies present for parents.

Amish parents, unlike many of us, don’t fully realize all that can be done with these new phones, with the “world in your pocket.” There have actually been formal meetings among the Amish where outside speakers have discussed today’s technologies and their impact.

Several hundred Amish youth have Facebook accounts. They stay in touch by texting.  We have heard that some are unable to resist the temptation to take photos at weddings, where cameras are not allowed. Since quite a few Amish businessmen have cell phones, it is not surprising that many young folks do, too.

For example, the first time I had ever seen a Blackberry was years ago in the hands of an Amish carriage maker. More recently, I was having lunch with an Amish businessman who was receiving text messages from his son while deer hunting. I felt as if I was not even present at the table. He agreed that once you possess the technology, it becomes difficult to give it up or even limit its use. Our devices can bring those far away from us closer, while at the same time alienating those sitting right next to us.

The Amish position on technology is not that “anything new is bad.” Rather, they ask, “Do you control the technology, or does it control you?” They then decide to limit it, make accommodations, adapt it, or ban it altogether.

Many visitors are incredulous to learn the Amish population continues to double here about every 20 years. Surprisingly, most Amish youth still decide to join the Amish faith and the world of the horse-and-buggy, plain clothes, and eighth grade educations. The fact remains that family and community transcend the allure of the modern world, even though much of what they see “beyond the fence” certainly looks appealing.

In the end, it was this Amish mother I was chatting with at her kitchen table who summed up our conversation about the difference between what we want and what we need. “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but it’s just as hard to mow.”

Come here to learn more about the Amish

Did you know that the Amish have a horse-drawn trailer that contains benches, hymnals, and all the other items necessary for Sunday church services at one another’s homes? Or, did you know that the Amish are often bi-lingual, speaking English, German, and “Pennsylvania Dutch?”

For those inquisitive and curious minds who want to learn more about the Amish lifestyle and culture first-hand, a great place to check out is the is the Amish Experience. Located on route 340 in the heart of Amish country, this educational destination is the only location of its kind in Lancaster County to be named a “Heritage Site” by the Lancaster County Historical Society. And, unlike other museums or destinations, The Amish Experience is surrounded on all sides by farmland beauty; rural, rolling farmland, horses, cows, cornfields, and even a fruit market that set the scene for what guests will enjoy during their visit. The Amish Experience is also a perfect option for your Sunday itinerary because many other Amish destinations are closed.

So, on a sunny Sunday in June, I surprised my out of town guests with a visit to the Experience. As we toured the grounds, we enjoyed walking through rows of vegetables and herbs which are part of the museum garden. We learned that many guests had never seen what a beet, sweet pea, or potato plant actually looked like, and we enjoyed listening to the excited laughter of children when they saw a real tomato growing on a vine. We enjoyed seeing (up close) a laundry line of colorful Amish clothing, fresh from the wash, and hanging out to dry in the warm summer air. And, yes, even an Amish phone booth!

The homestead tour was fascinating. Even as a resident of Lancaster, I learned numerous things about the Amish that I had never known before. Our favorite part of the tour was the Schoolhouse, where we were able to learn from our tour guide while sitting in authentic desks donated from an actual schoolhouse in the neighboring town of Strasburg. We also got to browse through a real Amish Hymnal and see workbooks that Amish children would use.

A unique part of the Amish Experience is the theatre show “Jacob’s Choice,” which brings to life the story of an Amish teen who is struggling with his decision to join the church. The show boasts surprising special effects, and a story that is certain to touch the hearts of all who see it.

As we got in the car to head home, I couldn’t help but think of the “Jacob’s Choice” story, and ponder the similarities that we, as human beings, share, regardless of what lifestyle we choose or what path we walk. We all experience joy, sorrow, and the pursuit of happiness – whatever that may be. And while sometimes we have our differences, the more we learn about other ways of life, the more we realize that we’re all in this together.

A different mode of transportation

Since moving to Lancaster a few years ago, I have gotten accustomed to seeing Amish horses and buggies. I have often looked at the little faces staring out the back of the carriage as I drive past and thought “I wonder what it would be like to live a slower pace of life?” I got a small glimpse into this world recently when I hopped aboard a buggy for a private tour of the Amish countryside.

I met up with my group at Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides in Bird-in-Hand. As we waited for our driver, we got an up close and personal introduction to the horses that pull the buggies and wagons. Most of them are Draft horses which weigh about 1,000 lbs and can pull about 3 times their weight. They are much larger in person than I realized, but they were definitely relaxed and docile around the crowd of people who had congregated around them to pet them and take photos.

Our driver, Levi, arrived and helped us into the buggy and introduced us to Kate – our horse. We were even allowed to have Teddy Bear, our friend’s dog, join us on our ride. (Yes, this tour is pet friendly!) With that we were off on our journey through the country. The first thing I noticed about riding in a buggy was how cool it was. In 80-something degree weather with no air conditioning and a partially enclosed buggy, I expected to be a little warm, but it was cool and comfortable as Kate trotted along at a mere 8-10 miles per hour. As we heading to our first stop on the tour, Levi gave us some information about the Amish. I was surprised and slightly embarrassed at how little I know about them. Levi explained that Lancaster County is home to the oldest and largest community of Amish in the state of Pennsylvania. The Lancaster County Amish are “old order” and are traditionally more restrictive about modern technology than other groups such as the Mennonite. I was surprised to learn that there is a new group of Amish who drive and use some modern technology. Levi also explained to us that most of the local Amish are big into using solar panels so as not to have electricity in their homes.

We saw the solar panels in use at the first stop on our tour, a working dairy farm. The Amish family who owns the farm does everything by hand or with non-electric tools. We walked through the barn where the dairy cows were all lined up in their stalls and relaxing. We also saw the huge tank where the fresh milk is stored before it is picked up by truck and shipped off for processing by a larger company. I couldn’t believe how much milk the farm produces each day. The cows are milked twice daily and the milk is picked up by truck every other day, that’s a lot of milk!

After our farm tour, we piled back into the buggy and rolled along more beautiful back country roads to the Countryside Road-stand. This is a nice stop for groups to stretch their legs a bit and get a snack.  Of course when I saw a sign reading “Homemade Soft Pretzels” I jumped right in line. They also had homemade root beer which I had to try. Both were delicious! Since we had some time to look around, I wandered around to check out the playground, petting zoo, and gift shop. The Road-Stand sells a lot of items that would make nice gifts to take home such as quilted items, crafts, and homemade apple butter. My souvenir was a pretzel to take home for later!

As we traveled back to Aaron & Jessica’s, Levi talked about growing up and working on his uncle’s dairy farm, his children and grandchildren, and Amish life in general. He was open to just about any question and curiosity our group had about Amish life and culture. He even joked about silly questions some visitors have asked in the past. (One that made me laugh was a lady asking him if Amish wear undergarments since she’d never seen any hanging out to dry!) I feel like I learned a lot about local Amish culture and people during my buggy ride. It was nice and refreshing to leave my fast-paced and busy life behind for one morning. Mind you, I won’t be converting to Amish any time soon, but I definitely left Aaron & Jessica’s feeling relaxed!

Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides offers several types of tours through Amish towns and farmland.  If you’re visiting them any time soon, check out their website for discount coupons!

Kid-friendly Strasburg day trip

My 4-year old daughter Sophia, 4-year old nephew Ethan, and sister Sherry, joined me on a trip to The Shops at Traintown in Strasburg. We started our day at The Choo Choo Barn – Traintown U.S.A. where we experienced one of America’s largest and most engaging custom model train displays, then had a scrumptious lunch at Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches, and ended the day by eating homemade ice cream while watching fudge being made at Uncle Leroy’s Ice Cream and Candy Kitchen.

Have you been to The Choo Choo Barn? It’s fascinating! It features more than 1,700 square feet of special model train displays with more than 150 hand-built animated figures & vehicles, and 22 operating trains. The layout represents many Lancaster sights and sounds, such as an Amish barn raising, Dutch Wonderland, and the Strasburg Rail Road. Sophia and Ethan were mesmerized by all the moving parts, small details, and fun surprises (the lights in the room turn off and the stars come out – you’ll have to visit to understand what I mean). For older kids, the Choo Choo Barn provides a check list of items to find throughout the display – kind of like “Where’s Waldo” if you remember those books. The Choo Choo Barn also has a great gift shop. The kids spent about 15 minutes looking around, deciding what their souvenirs would be. The prices were reasonable, so letting the kiddos choose a memento was an easy decision.

We were starving by the time we finished at The Choo Choo Barn, so we walked a few doors down to Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches – a Lancaster favorite. In addition to being a bird-themed restaurant (click on this link to find out more), it is also train-themed – how cool is that? This uber kid-friendly restaurant is perfect for the whole family, and the food is delicious! Being a vegetarian, it can be challenging to find variety when eating out, but Isaac’s is the exception. I got the Black-Eyed Susan (grilled black bean burger with ranch dressing, cheese, fresh tomatoes and lettuce in a soft cheddar wrap) and it was great! Don’t look at the dessert menu unless you’re still hungry; their amazing and decadent desserts WILL lore you in every time.

To end our day, we walked a short distance to Uncle Leroy’s Ice Cream and Candy Kitchen. We each indulged in a scoop of ice cream. I had Almond Joy – delish! While we ate, we roamed around the store and tried all the FREE SAMPLES of fudge and brittles. Everything we tasted was so fresh and the flavors were creative and unique. Before long, the onsite magic started: the boiling sugar concoction in the large cauldron-like pot was poured on to a table topped with a large marble slab. We watched the whole process of fudge being made, from start to finish. It took about 30 minutes. The best part? We got to taste the fudge straight from the marble slab. THE. BEST. EV-ER. I highly recommend the fudge and brittles at Uncle Leroy’s – he knows that he’s doing!

The day was fun, educational, insightful and totally suitable for youngsters. Next time you’re in Strasburg, be sure to visit Shops at Traintown.

isaacs

uncleleroys

What does it mean to be Amish?

One night when an Amish friend and I were talking, I asked this question: “What does it mean to be Amish?” It’s hard for anyone to summarize a lifestyle or beliefs in a few words without much time to think about it, so I asked him to say the first thing that popped into his head.

The first thought that came to him was “security.” It was apparent he was not thinking in terms of “safety.” He described it as a close-knit brotherhood and support. This is manifested in many ways, from the older people being cared for and valued by the younger, to the family’s eating meals together daily, from church services in homes to auctions and barn-raisings for those in need.

Next, he spoke of the slower pace of life, a more relaxed way of living, but a strong work ethic. My friend then wondered what the impact of fewer farmers and more “Amish businessmen” will be, especially if people become “too well off?” He thought “prosperity” was the biggest threat to the Amish way of life, although many Amish would put cellphones (“the world in your pocket”) at the top of the list.

Another part of what it means to be Amish is the importance of a good heritage and faith; he mentioned the Christian Anabaptist martyrs of the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. Struggles between church and state have continued into contemporary times and often make “headlines” in the media.

He then mentioned plain dress; that Amish clothing was more standardized and economical. “I don’t need to give much thought on what I’m going to wear each morning. Some people say that if the heart is right, it doesn’t matter how you dress. But if the heart is right, shouldn’t you dress accordingly?”

Similarly, he touched on not having a television, radio, computer, internet, etc. It’s not so much electricity that is the problem, as what may come into the home via the media once you have it – perhaps a concern that is not unique to the Amish.

An Amishman was speaking before a group and was asked to explain what it meant to be Amish. He began by first asking these non-Amish how many of them owned a TV. All the hands went up. He then asked, “How many people think it might be better not to have a TV?” All hands up again.  Finally he asked the group, “When you get home today, how many will get rid of your TV?”  No hands went up. “That’s what it means to be Amish!”

Do the Amish celebrate Christmas?

Yes, the Amish celebrate Christmas!

They observe Christmas as a sacred holiday with simplicity and tradition. While some are influenced by the traditions of their English friends, many do not get caught up in the modern-day commercialism as we experience it. Most don’t include Santa Claus, electric lights, flashy tinsel, fancy wrapping paper, or Christmas trees. Rather, they focus on the reason for the holiday– Jesus’ birth.

Because Christmas is so important in the Amish community, it is celebrated for two days. On December 25, they fast, meditate, and read Scripture; on December 26, or “Second Christmas,” they celebrate with family and friends with festive gatherings, great feasts, and gift-giving.

Because the Pennsylvania Amish have been greatly influenced by German Christmas traditions, they often decorate by lighting candles and hanging stars, angels, greenery, and holiday cards. Most families exchange gifts and usually pick names out of a hat so each person receives one gift each year. Gifts are not always of the old-fashioned handmade variety. Sometimes they give gifts such as Barbie dolls (dressed Amish), board games, and toy tractors. In addition, homemade cookies, candy, and stamped Christmas cards are very popular. Often Amish owned stores sell these homemade items.

At the Amish schoolhouse, a Christmas program is usually planned and is one of the most anticipated events of the year. The Amish community enjoys watching the children sing, read poems, and perform Christmas plays.

And, when it happens to snow, the children enjoy playing outside. They race down the hills on their sleds, ice skate, play ice hockey, and of course, have snowball fights and snowman building competitions.

While we, the English, enjoy our traditions at Christmas, the Amish, too, will be enjoying their holiday traditions, but always with Jesus at the center of their celebration.

To learn more about how the Amish celebrate Christmas, listen to Ada’s story.

A VIP Tour that’s available to all

I embarked on the Amish Experience’s Amish V.I.P. (“Visit in Person”) Tour along with our Public Relations Director, Joel Cliff.  The V.I.P. tour is a fantastic opportunity to visit with our Amish neighbors in a more personal and intimate setting.

When I first heard the tour was three hours, it seemed like a long span of time, but when the tour was finished I couldn’t believe how quickly the time went.  I was engaged throughout the entire tour, as was even the youngest member of our group, a 6-year-old girl from Canada.

We boarded a very comfortable 14-seat air-conditioned bus and our driver and tour guide, Joanne, began our journey with some background on the Amish community and their history in the area.  Our first stop was at Esh’s dairy farm, where owner Jake showed us how they milk cows and told us all about life on the dairy farm.  Our young little Canadian even had the opportunity to bottle feed one of the calves.

We toured the barn where we saw buggy horses and work mules, then headed to the quilt shop where they sold gorgeous handmade quilts and other beautiful gifts.

Our next stop was at the Leola Buggy Shop to see how buggies are made and refurbished.  It was really neat to learn about the types of buggies, the various features that can be ordered, and the differences between Mennonite and Amish buggies.

Our final stop was an Amish home where we warmly welcomed by Steven and his family.  We toured the kitchen and common area, then had the opportunity to sit in the living room to listen to stories and ask whatever questions we wanted:  “Do you pay taxes?”  “How long do the kids go to school?”  “Do you still do barn raisings?” etc.  This was perhaps the most enjoyable part of the tour – I mean, how many people have the chance to sit and talk with an Amish family and realize that, in a lot of ways, they are just like you and me?

Throughout our tour, Joanne kept us entertained with fun facts, answered our questions, and told us how she came to live and work in Lancaster County.  (Originally from Long Island, she visited Lancaster on her honeymoon and fell in love with the area … for more details, ask her yourself!)  The other guests – visiting from Long Island, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Canada – couldn’t say enough wonderful things about the outing.

If you would like to learn about the Amish, and see how they live, work and play firsthand, then book your Amish V.I.P. Tour today at www.AmishExperience.com.

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