Writer To Reader
Interview with Wanda E. Brunstetter
How Do the Amish Celebrate Christmas?
Reader To Reader Asks an Expert: Wanda Brunstetter
Bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter’s love for and friendship with those in the Amish community has placed her in a unique position to tell stories about the Plain People in an accurate and entertaining way.
During this holiday season, we chatted with Wanda to find out how the Amish celebrate Christmas and what type of stories we can expect from her in the New Year.
The Christmas Secret is a wonderful novella your publisher just reissued for the holiday season. Set in Pennsylvania in 1880, this book differs from your others in that the characters aren’t Amish. Were there Amish communities during that time? When and where did the Amish get their start? How long have the Amish been here? Do they live in countries other than the U.S.?
Yes, there would have been Amish living in Pennsylvania in 1880. The first Amish immigrants for whom records are available settled in Berks County, PA in 1736. Today, the Amish not only live in various settlements in Pennsylvania, but they also live in many other states here. There are also Amish settlements in Canada.
You’ve written several Christmas novels, including Twice Loved, which is set in post-war 1946, and The Lopsided Christmas Cake, the story of twin Amish sisters and a disastrous baking competition. The Christmas spirit comes through in each of your holiday novels, but how does writing an Amish Christmas story differ from the non-Amish Christmas historicals?
My non-Amish historicals show what life was like during the 1800s and early 1900s and include several Christmas traditions. My Amish stories set in today's world show how the Amish people live and celebrate Christmas.
Tell us about how the Amish celebrate Christmas.
In some ways the Amish celebrate Christmas as we English do. They get together with family for a big meal on Christmas Day and usually give gifts to each other. Their emphasis is on celebrating the birth of Jesus, not on Santa Claus or other worldly things. Some Amish put candles around their homes, and some string Christmas cards received from friends. They don't display Christmas trees in their houses or string lights inside or outside the home.
What is your favorite Amish Christmas tradition?
My favorite Amish Christmas tradition is the time they spend together with their families, visiting, sharing a meal, singing Christmas songs and reading the Christmas story from the Bible.
You have a new Amish series, The Amish Cooking Class, which begins next year with the publication of The Seekers in February. Tell us a little about that series and the book.
The Amish Cooking Class will be a three-book series, and each will be about the cooking classes an Amish woman named Heidi Troyer teaches in her home. The series will be similar to my Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club series, and, in fact, Heidi is Emma Miller's niece. In each class Heidi's students come to learn how to cook some traditional Amish meals, but she often ends up mentoring them emotionally and or spiritually.
Speaking of the new year, do the Amish celebrate the New Year’s holiday?
Yes, the Amish do celebrate the New Year but not with the kind of parties we English might attend. They get together for an evening of games and refreshments and enjoy being with family and friends as they usher in the New Year.
In addition to the gorgeous Amish Quilts coffee table book and a useful Amish Friends Harvest Cookbook that came out this year, you also had a new Amish novel published titled The Hawaiian Quilt. What was your favorite writing project in 2016?
I enjoy every book I write, but I think my favorite during 2016 was The Hawaiian Quilt, which I co-authored with my daughter-in-law, Jean Brunstetter. It was fun to visit Hawaii with our husbands and do research for the scenes we set in the book. We recently returned from a round of signings in the Aloha State.
That book had a unique Hawaiian setting. Can we expect more Amish stories set in out-of-the ordinary locations?
While I like to create scenes in the usual Amish communities most people know about, I also enjoy writing about places the Amish visit, as well as Amish communities that are less known. I will continue to write the stories God lays on my heart, and if they end up to be some out of the ordinary places, so much the better.
Order The Christmas Secret and other books by Wanda Brunstetter
Visit Wanda's Website
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