Spring is a beautiful time in Holmes County, Ohio. The grass is a rich, verdant green; the fields are being prepared for planting; and a general sense of new life is in the air. Gardens are prepared, planted and watched over carefully. In the middle of the spring season, there is a day when much of the Amish world will stop, take a breath, and remember their deep connection to the traditional Christian world and faith.
Ascension Day, or the 40th day of Easter, as it is known in some circles, is always 39 days after Easter. This year it falls on Thursday, May 18. It celebrates, or commemorates, the ascension of Jesus after the crucifixion and resurrection. Traditionally it has been a church holy day, and is celebrated by Christians in different ways.
As with most of Christianity, the Amish keep Christmas and Easter as significant holidays in the life of their faith. In addition, they observe Old Christmas (Epiphany, January 6), Good Friday (the Friday before Easter Sunday), and Ascension Day as times to stop and remember their connection to the Christian world. This is not because they think that they are more holy, or to be different; rather, it honors their own view that faith, family, and community are worth more than production or making money.
In a world that has become fast-paced, driven, and hurried, this opportunity to slow down and remember is necessary for the Amish worldview. Ascension Day is often spent focused on what is most important for these people: their faith, their families, and community. The morning is reserved for fasting. Many people do the necessary chores and then spend time visiting or inviting people over for a meal. Some of the church districts may hold their regular Sunday service on Thursday instead. Or it may simply be a day where you relax, visit, and enjoy some space around the busy spring schedule. Some youth might organize volleyball or softball games.
If you choose to visit Amish Country on Ascension Day, or one of the other holidays mentioned above, you will find many of the businesses that are Amish-owned, or rely on them for business, to not be open. Instead you will find them resting. Rather than getting upset about that, take the opportunity to stop, rest, and reflect on the beauty of spring, and the gentleness of the green land around us. Take a breath, celebrate, and enjoy!
A slightly different version of this article originally appeared at Lehmans.com.