When people think of the Amish, they usually think of Amish quilts, funny hats, no electricity, and a lot of hard work. We often see Amish men and boys plowing the fields with horse drawn tractors or Amish women working in the local markets wearing their white caps and blue dresses selling their handmade Amish quilts. While these are all important parts of Amish life, they are not the only things that make up the daily lives of the typical Amish community member. They are certainly not a community of all work and no play. The Amish believe in working hard and resting well, which might surprise some people who do not understand the Amish way of life. It is not all sewing Amish quilts until their fingers bleed or tilling the fields until the sun goes down. Just like any community, the Amish find time for fun and enjoy many of the same things that other people enjoy in modern communities. It is true that a typical Amish home does not have electricity, so there are no video games to play or televisions to watch, but the Amish have plenty of interesting activities that provide them the opportunity to relax, unwind, and have fun.
One of the most popular activities in an Amish community is going to auction. The Amish are a very practical people, so the opportunity to buy things at a discounted rate or to sell unused items at an auction appeals to their sense of practicality. Whenever there is going to be a large auction in or around the community, most of the townspeople attend and oftentimes the schools are even let out early for the event. Amish men enjoy going to livestock auctions to keep up on the local area farm animal prices, as well as farming auctions where retiring farmers can sell their equipment or livestock. Amish women enjoy going to household auctions where they can sell many of their newly made Amish quilts or purchase new household goods, such as furniture, linens, or dishware. The auction is also a place where the Amish can meet up with friends or even mingle with their English acquaintances outside the Amish community.
In the evenings after dinner has been served and all the chores have been completed, most Amish people take this quiet time to read a good book, catch up on the local Amish news by reading an Amish produced newsletter, or write handwritten letters to distant relatives or pen pals. The Amish really enjoy reading about things that appeal to them and spend a lot of their free time doing so. It may surprise you to know that there are many books published each year specifically written by Amish authors about the things that the Amish care about. There are Amish quilting books, Amish cooking books, Amish farming books, and even Amish romance novels. Most Amish communities produce their own newspapers or newsletters that are distributed within the community and others that are distributed nationwide to all of the Amish communities in the country. The Amish love knowing what farming technique a particular Amish community might be using or what new Amish quilting style some Amish quilting bees might be producing. There are even Amish newsletters made just for Amish teens that address the typical things that appeal to most teenagers, such as sports, gossip, and even dating.
The Amish also enjoy corresponding with friends and relatives that they do not typically get to see on a regular basis through the writing of letters. Many Amish families have relatives in faraway Amish communities, usually through marriage, and they like to keep in touch by sending cards and letters to each other on a regular basis. Because Amish communities are often smaller than most communities, the younger Amish boys and girls know all the other children in the community. So, they often choose to branch out to other Amish communities in other states by writing pen pal letters. Amish newsletters will post announcements asking for pen pals between communities and many children and adults communicate with each other in this way. They might exchange recipes, Amish quilting tips, farming advice, or even find long distance love via written correspondence. Some Amish people even have non-Amish friends that they write letters to on a regular basis.
Other fun and important activities among the Amish include games, both indoors and out. The Amish love to get together with their families at night to play a variety of board games. Teenagers often get together for game nights for fun as well as a way to spend time with someone they have wanted to date. The Amish also love playing outdoor sports, but they are always noncompetitive versions of many popular mainstream games like baseball, hockey, roller-skating, sledding, or fishing. Because the Amish prefer to focus on the group as a whole rather than the individual, popular sports like baseball have been altered into a version where there is no winner or loser. While this might seem like a strange practice to those outside the Amish community, it allows all of the children in the community to participate for the fun of it rather than for the competition aspect of it.
Of course, one of the favored pastime activities for Amish women is that of Amish quilting. Making an Amish quilt is one of the few ways that an Amish woman can express her creative side. While the colors that are acceptable to wear or use in an Amish home are often quite limited, Amish quilters are given a little extra leeway when making their Amish quilts. Of course, Amish quilting to the Amish community is a profitable business for most, however, this is not the only reason why the Amish quilter makes her Amish quilts. Most Amish women learn how to make Amish quilts when they are little girls by their mothers or grandmothers. The heritage of Amish quilting is passed on from generation to generation and while many women choose to make Amish quilts as a way to make a living, most make their Amish quilts for their own family usage or to give as treasured gifts to other family and friends. Older Amish quilters meet up with younger Amish quilters at community quilting bees to finish off together their handmade Amish quilts. This is a great way to meet up with the other women of the community and to see what new Amish quilting techniques or designs each woman has come up with. These Amish quilters get together for community gossip, female companionship, and to form a sense of unity between the women of the community.