Amish and the Color Blue, Superstitions, and Celery at Weddings

Anonymous wrote:

Yes! I would love to have been born Amish. In fact, I think I might have been in a past life.

When I was 18 yrs.old, I workrd at a daycare center a little boy was drawing a picture of an old man with a beard and a hat. I asked him to tell me about his drawing, he said it was of some people called the Amish, he saw them in PA where his grammy lived. I had never heard of the Amish before!
After the center closed, I went straight to the library as fast as I could- checked out every book they had on the Amish and been hooked ever since. I am now 45 yrs. old!
Questions – Why do most Amish favor the color blue?
What are some Amish superstitions?
Why so much celery at weddings?
Does food taste better on a wood stove or an electric one? I bet its really tricky to cook on a wood stove.
I could go on…. this is so exciting!
Thank you!

Anon, I had to chuckle about your feeling that you were Amish in a past life, because as an Amish person I never even knew about the concept of reincarnation. I don’t think most Amish do…  But I do know the feeling that deep down in your soul, you’ve known something before you were conscious in this life. It’s fascinating to me that some of us are born into such a different family/culture/setting than what we would have consciously chosen. It’s probably about as hard, if not harder to become Amish as it is to leave the Amish. 

I cannot answer your questions for all Amish, so I will answer them from my own “Amish” perspective.

I favored the color blue when I was Amish because it came in so many different shades and it was the brightest color I was allowed to wear… in my community we were not allowed to wear purple, which is now my favorite color. I especially loved bright royal blue and turquoise when I was Amish. I never longed to wear makeup (and still don’t wear it), but I sure would have liked to wear bright colors. 

Some of the superstitions in my family were:

  • If you find a four-leafed clover, it is a sign of good luck.
  • If you break a mirror, you will have bad luck for seven years.
  • Friday the 13th. was a day of bad luck. 
  • Do not hold an umbrella (especially a black one) over your head inside the house. 
  • If you drop a sharp knife or scissors and it sticks into the floor by the sharp end, it is a sign someone is going to die soon.
  • A bird inside the house is also a message someone is going to die soon.
  • Thunder over an open woods (before the trees have their leaves in the spring) is a bad sign (this was never spelled out).

Interesting about celery at weddings… I never knew some Amish eat celery at weddings until after I left the Amish. I think that is more of a Lancaster tradition, because none of the Amish I knew did that. In my home community, it certainly was never done. Given so many Amish (my family and myself included) hate the sound of someone crunching, I would think that would be quite annoying. So this question I cannot answer.

It is rather hard to compare the taste of food cooked on a wood stove versus an electric one, considering I never had the two at the same time. I don’t think it changes the taste of the food, but certainly the electric stove is more convenient. 

Thank you for your questions. 

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22 thoughts on “Amish and the Color Blue, Superstitions, and Celery at Weddings”

  1. Elin, the colors that I can think of that were allowed were green, blue, brown, black, and gray. What wasn’t allowed were yellow, pink, red, purple, orange, or anything really bright.

    All the colors that were allowed were worn often… there wasn’t one that was rarely worn if it was allowed.

  2. I just read something about celery at weddings but I don’t recall the reason. Something to do with a good marriage perhaps? I need to go back and check. :) It’s interesting to read your answers, Saloma.
    Have a good weekend,
    Karen :)

  3. I had never heard of celery being an Amish wedding thing either until a few months before we got married and we attended a Lancaster style wedding. They served both raw and cooked celery. I opted out of both, not wanting to crunch on the raw or gag on the cooked. :)

    Growing up I always wished I could wear royal blue. Our community didn’t allow anything lighter than navy for women and girls but purples and reds were okay as long as they weren’t too bright. I don’t think there was any color that wasn’t used for men’s shirts. I still find it interesting to hear all the differences in communities.

    I did have a question about your coverings. The black ones you used to wear to church…. after it was pleated from side to side did you also pleat it with larger pleats from top to bottom? My husband has family in Troutville/Punxutawney PA which I always thought was associated with Geauga and that’s how their black Sunday coverings were pleated. They always fascinated me and looked so difficult to make.

    Mary Ann

  4. That’s interesting, Saloma. I’ve not heard of the superstitions regarding knives/scissors, birds, or thunder before, but all the others are familiar and I think very widespread. They are certainly common superstitions in Britain, and clearly not unique to the Amish.

    What intrigues me, though, is to ask how the concept of “luck” squares with religion. It always seems to me that people with deeply-held religious beliefs ascribe events, good or bad, to the will of God. Superstition as a whole seems to be incompatible with faith in God. Has that ever struck you as a contradiction?

  5. Thank you for your answer! I think I would wear brown if were Amish, I like the way it makes my skin look and probably blue too as that looks good with my blue eyes.

    About purple, do some Amish groups allow it? I have an Amish fiction book with a girl in a purple dress so I started to wonder if the artist was wrong or if this is one of the things that differ.

  6. That’s funny about the superstitions! I grew up with all of them but 2 that you listed! lol I also would like to mention that I have a sneaky bird that will sneak into my garage in the evenings. It sleeps in there all night. In the morning it sings to let me know it’s there so I will let it out! That is one smart bird!

    I had also heard about the celery at the weddings of Amish. Funny to know that it isn’t true with all Amish weddings. I did see Mary Ann’s comment that she didn’t have it at her wedding either.

    Have a Great Day!

  7. “Given so many Amish (my family and myself included) hate the sound of someone crunching”

    Now there’s something I’d never thought of as a cultural trait!

  8. Karen, I’d be interested in where you read about celery at weddings and what it said.

    Mary Ann, interesting on the celery. I never did go to a Lancaster wedding. I wonder if they are the only ones who do eat celery at weddings? I don’t blame you — crunching or gagging — I’d opt out, too!

    I agree, I love finding out the differences between your community and mine. You wished you could wear royal blue, I wished I could wear purple… now these are my two favorite colors to wear. I am surprised that the men in your community were allowed to wear any colors. Did any of them wear yellow or lavender?

    About our Kappa, you have the right ones in mind. My aunt Katie never married and she made ours. She had them pleated so tightly, it was amazing. And the “crisscross” pleating was also very tight. Then she moved to Cashton, where the pleats were much bigger, and I think she stopped making Geauga Kappa.

    Botanist, I will be posting a blog to answer your question to the best of my knowledge.

    Elin, you’re absolutely right, some Amish do allow purple, as Mary Ann mentioned.

    Angela, that is indeed a smart bird. I actually think birds are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. I may end up telling my rooster story someday to demonstrate why I think that.

    Tattytiara, I will blogging on your comment in the near future. I have lots to say about that.

    Thanks, all for your comments.


  9. About the celery in Lancaster County OOA weddings–the old tradition of a couple’s courtship being a secret is slowly dying out. Usually the entire family knows if a wedding is planned for that year, although they don’t publicize it, so that the couple has the excitement of “publishing” their intentions two weeks before the date. However, when you see a garden with more than half a row of celery, it usually means that a wedding is coming up that year. I know a woman who “hid” her two full rows of celery between the rows of corn.

    1. I have been reading a series of Amish based books by Beverly Lewis and have wondered How much of it is fact/fiction/truth. It is based on the O.O.A. from Lancaster, Pa. and some of the same group in Ohio and Ind. She talks about the celery at weddings.

  10. I found an answer to the question about celery. Here’s what Welcome To Lancaster County has to say about it:

    “Creamed celery is traditionally served at the reception following a wedding among the Amish community. One of the main reasons for this is that Amish weddings usually occur in November and December in Lancaster County and celery is one of the only fresh vegetables available during those months. Since celery is not grown in great quantities in the region, it is considered a delicacy and eaten on special occasions rather than at daily meals.”

  11. I was curious about the celery thing, too, while writing my first fiction book. I asked Esther Keim, who grew up Amish in the Ashland County area, about why they used celery fronds and stalks in vases as decor on the eck table. Her answer (like so many answers to other Amish “mysteries?): “I don’t know. We just did it because it was always done.”

    Then, in Holmes County, I heard my husband’s Amish cousins talking about a neighbor who had planted celery in the spring. They were trying to figure out which daughter might be getting married in the fall.

    My editor friend looked for answers on the internet, and the only thing she was able to come up with was it used to be considered a sign of fertility hundreds of years ago in some European cultures. Who knows? Maybe that is one tradition that has been maintained in pockets of Amish communities. But like you have said before: it is very difficult to paint the Amish with a broad brush. Generalities exist, but many variables also exist from community to communities. This idea of variety in rules and culture has been very hard for me to get across to my friends who love the “Amish” and yet do not understand (or want to accept) the vast differences among the sects.

  12. Thanks all of you who gave the various answers about the celery. I am reading yet another famish book….. I’m in love with the culture and the people. And I couldn’t figure that one out.

    1. Funny you should say that. I have a lifelong friend who says the same thing- that if her husband were willing she would love to go back to the Amish in Kansas where they grew up. (Frankly, I suspect that she is actually ‘bauchweh’ for the lifestyle, not for the restrictions of the Amish. As a lifestyle, it was great.)

      In my case, I was never tempted, never seriously ever considered it. I do wish I had kept up with the language though and I wish I had taught it to my daughter.

      1. I grew up in the city, I guess the Amish would call me “English”, kind of funny since some of my ancestors came from England, as an older adult, I to have thought I would like to join them. Then I realize what I really mean is the basic life style. I live in the country and love it. We garden and I used to can, but not able to do it by myself. So all of the Ladies getting together and doing so much really appeals to me. I guess it’s the fellowship and country life I am seeking.

  13. Some very interesting questions. One of the things my sister reminded me of just before I married was the “something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new.” She set me up so I met all the criteria. Personally, I don’t believe in any of it, but it was something special we did as sisters. Also, a groom is not supposed to see his bride in her wedding dress before the wedding. Supposed to be bad luck.
    I found a 4-leaf clover once as a girl. I may still have it in some dusty decrepit book. I thought at the time it represented good luck, but I don’t think I comprehended what luck really was. Maybe an abundance of candy or some such thing. Never did receive the candy so I guess I gave up on the notion.
    You know Saloma, the more I read your blog the more I see similarities between your life as an Amish person and my life as an “English” person. Are people so different? I think in core issues, not.

  14. “Given so many Amish (my family and myself included) hate the sound of someone crunching”

    That’s an interesting statement. I thought it was peculiar to my family- I’ve never known any eaters, collectively speaking, as quiet as we were. Not only did we object to crunch, we also monitored lip smacking, open mouth chewing, speaking with one’s mouth full and taking too big bites. We were not a forgiving family… Going out into the real world was a rude shock to me. :)

  15. There is a neurological disorder called Misophonia that results in the hatred of sound. It is genetic. Several of my family members have this condition. There is no cure or treatment but huge relief for us to know there is a reason and we aren’t crazy when some sounds drive us away. In extreme cases individuals have been known to harm others

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