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The Amish keep Christmas with a mixture of celebration and solemnity.
Cautious about commercialism, they center their festivities around family get-togethers, fun-filled school programs, and a few, but carefully chosen, presents. Many gifts are handmade, secretly and lovingly created.
If Mary and Joseph Had Been Amish . . .
Yes, it requires an imaginative leap, but the figures and creatures found in An Amish Nativity suggest a most unusual view of the Holy Family-hushed yet full of earth and energy. Here are the familiar characters, presented in an attitude and atmosphere akin to Mary and Joseph's peasant setting.
Dolls Without Faces
This Nativity's human figures are fashioned without faces, in keeping with the Amish tradition of humility. The practice of making dolls without faces was common among the Amish from the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. It indicated their careful effort to live as the Bible directed, including the Old Testament commandment not to make "graven images." The Amish understood that to prohibit taking photographs-or making dolls with faces-because it would too nearly resemble human beings.
While this Holy Family, and the attending shepherds and wise men, have no eyes, noses, or mouths, their faces are gently contoured to create personality. They are patterned after existing antique Amish dolls which were clearly loved by their owners.
The clothing for these figures is steadfastly plain, matching in spirit the simple lines of traditional Amish clothing. The colors suggested for dressing Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus, and the shepherds are those preferred by the Amish-rich burgundies, greens, blues, and purples.
These peasant figures fit comfortably next to the animals that warmed the Christmas stable. Sheep, a cow, a donkey, and a camel cluster around, quietly observing the unusual scene.
Miniature Amish Quilts
A traditional Amish quilt lies at the visual center of this holiday tableau. What more appropriate bedcover for the child than a lively and colorful miniature Amish quilt! In fact, you have a choice of four patterns-a Center Diamond, a Bars, a Roman Stripe, or a Checkerboard. Why not make all four and change to a new quilt each week of Advent?
Bring rare beauty and peace to your Christmas celebration this season with an Amish Nativity-peasant figures, joined by exotically dressed wise men, jaunty animals, and strikingly beautiful miniature quilts to cradle the child.