Amish life during winter assumes a seasonal rhythm. The garden has gone into a snow-covered slumber for the season. The firewood is already stacked and needs to be brought in occasionally.
Many Amish communities are in the Midwestern United States and Canada and that means darkness comes early. Gone are the warm days of summer when Amish women and girls sit outside in the evening peeling potatoes or weeding the garden or feeding livestock.
The cold, dark winter nights tend to bring an early end to the barn chores for Amish men, and buggies come off the streets earlier. By the way, here is a super article from a newspaper in Ohio that goes into a bit more depth about how the Amish spend winter.
Among the Amish, winter is a time of “hunkering down “and staying indoors as snow and cold swirl outside. But life doesn't come to a standstill during winter if you are Amish. The activities just shift.
It depends on which settlement because traditions and customs vary so much from place to place. Among the most conservative Amish, wood-stoves are still the rule, although you do find some coal. Kerosene is also common.
More progressive Amish communities will use wood pellets, propane, and even some electric heat in places like Crofton, Kentucky and Partridge, Kansas where there are "electric Amish."
8 Favorite Amish Winter Activities
Quilting: while quilting is done year-round, the quilting frames tend to be extra busy and the fingers are more nimble during the winter. There’s more time to stay indoors and quilt, so you’ll see many quilts get pieced together during the winter months
Board Games: Board games tend to come out more during the winter, when outdoor activities just aren’t as possible. Aggravation is a favorite board game among the Amish. So is Caroom. It’s not that board games are never played during the summer, but they tend to be much more of a winter activity because, well, there's just more time to hunker down indoors.
Ice fishing: not all the activities during winter are indoor, many Amish men, and some women, enjoy getting into tiny huts in a strategic spot on their favorite frozen pond or lake and trying to pull up the next fish dinner through a hole cut in the ice.
Sledding/Snow Fun: Again, this is an outdoor one: bobsledding, making snowmen, any outdoor fun that can be had is a winter favorite, followed by going inside for a warm mug of hot cocoa.
Ice Cutting: not all the activities during winter are fun, sometimes there is work that needs to be done. And for Amish communities where electric or solar refrigeration is not common, then this is the time of year to cut blocks of ice so that food can be kept cold year-round
Hog Butchering: this is a messy job and nobody wants to do it in July when it’s sweltering hot and flies will be all over the place. So often, in February or March, before winter departs and the temperatures are still cold, out come the hogs for butchering. The work is tiresome and tedious but the hams, bacons, and sausage are well worth it!
Letter writing: again, it’s not like this is never done during the warm months, but it’s a lot easier to reconnect with an old friend by pen and paper when you’re stuck indoors on a dark night, so there tend to be more circle letters, cards, and friendship letters sent during the winter.
Reading books: reading is another activity that seems to really take off in Amish homes during the winter. Nothing better than curling up with a favorite book under a hand-made quilt by a cozy fire.
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