By Kevin Williams
There’s a decent chance that if you were planning to visit Amish country today you might find the doors of your favorite bakery closed today. Today, many Amish families are celebrating or observing what is known as “Old Christmas”. We’ve discussed the significance of this date in past years, but it relates to the old Gregorian calendar and the 12 days of Christmas. Not all Old Order Amish observe this day.
The Amish that do celebrate the Epiphany (Old Christmas) today will do so with a spread of homemade cinnamon rolls or perhaps Long John Rolls, an oblong, frosted doughnut.
Bruce Stambaugh,a blogger in the heart of Amish Country, has a few observations about Old Christmas among his Holmes County, Ohio neighbors. Click here to read.
I talked to Gloria (our Amish Cook columnist based in Flat Rock, Illinois) this morning and asked her if her community observes Old Christmas and she confirmed that they don’t. Gloria is a member of a horse and buggy New Order church. She said some of the New Order churches in Ohio will observe the day out of respect to their Old Order neighbors. Gloria said that in general New Orders do not observe the day. Here’s a brief list of settlements that I have experience with and what they observe:
LANCASTER COUNTY, PA/WAYNE COUNTY, INDIANA/PARKE COUNTY, INDIANA: Amish businesses closed, they do observe Old Christmas
BERNE, INDIANA/SWITZERLAND COUNTY, INDIANA/SEYMOUR, MISSOURI; Amish businesses open, Old Christmas generally not observed
HOLMES COUNTY, OHIO/LA GRANGE COUNTY, INDIANA: Old Christmas is observed and Amish businesses are closed.
These are some cinnamon rolls which you’d likely find in Amish kitchens today. I’ve been in some Amish kitchens on Old Christmas and been greeted by quite a spread! Yet, as noted, other places you’ll barely see any acknowledgment or knowledge about the day. Traditions in Amish settlements are very insular and what is popular one place may be unknown in the next.
Here is a recipe for these delicious creations!
Serves: 2 dozen
- 6½ cups bread flour
- 2 c. warm water (105-115°)
- ½ c. granulated sugar
- 1 T. salt
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 2 eggs
- 1 /3 c. lard
- 6 T. margarine or butter, softened
- 1 c. packed brown sugar
- 3 t. ground cinnamon
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the bread flour with the water, sugar, salt, and yeast. Beat the mixture for two minutes with a wooden spoon, then add the eggs and the lard.
- Stir until all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
- Gradually add the remaining bread flour to the mixture and stir until a firm dough is formed.
- Cover the bowl and set it in a warm area to rest for 20 minutes.
- After resting, punch the dough down, divide it in half, and form it into two balls.
- On a floured surface, roll one ball of the dough out as thinly as possible.
- Brush half of the softened margarine evenly over the dough, then sprinkle with half of the brown sugar and half of the cinnamon.
- Roll the dough up like a jelly roll.
- Cut each roll into slices that are 1 /2 to ¾ inches thick.
- Place the slices 1 /2 inch apart in a buttered jelly roll pan.
- Repeat with the remaining ball of dough and the remaining margarine, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
- Place the rolls in a warm area and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Bake the rolls at 350° until they are golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
- Allow the rolls to cool on wire racks for 15 minutes. I
- f desired, you may spread the rolls with your favorite frosting before serving.
- Makes about 2 dozen rolls.