Wanda’s Journal

Christmas in Amish Country

At Christmastime there are no decorated trees or blinking lights adorning Amish people’s homes. They do, however, make special cookies and candies as part of the holiday activity. Some Amish will string the Christmas cards they receive around a room in their home, or may set out some candles and greenery. On Christmas Eve, the school children put on a program for their friends and family at the schoolhouse, where they share poems, recitations, and songs. The scholars will often exchange gifts with others in their class. On Christmas morning, the Amish gather with their families for devotions, and then the children open their gifts. In the afternoon the Amish get together for a big family meal. If Christmas Day falls near the end of the week, some church districts will hold their services on Christmas morning instead of the usual Sunday service.

Below is a recipe for a delicious dip that can be served during the holidays. One of my Amish friends shared it with me. It’s delicious, and I hope you will enjoy it too.


1 (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons salad dressing
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 medium cucumber, chopped
¼ cup green pepper, chopped
1 round tablespoon onion, chopped

In a mix bowl stir together the cream cheese, sour cream, salad dressing, and Worcestershire sauce. Add the cucumber, green pepper and onion. Refrigerate for two hours before serving. Serve with your favorite crackers.

What is your favorite Christmas recipe?

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  1. As a native German, our family has 2 dishes we have as faves. On Christmas Eve, it’s Roladen and on Christmas Day it’s Sauerbraten that my mom has made each year. She is getting quite old now, so it may be necessary to find another family member to take over that meal.

  2. The special dish of Love! This isn’t something you can eat only enjoy!!! My family loves each other so much! This year is special and sad I’m going thru Chemo and we are having a special and extra helping of Love this time.

  3. My mom makes the best white fruit cake that I love having a slice for my birthday on the 13TH. She is 87 and not well, so it will become a fond memory now. I make an eggnog cake for Jesus birthday that my kids and grandkids love. Have a blessed and Merry Christmas.

  4. Yum thanks for sharing I’m going to make it this week. It sure sounds good. I really enjoy reading all your books. I’m a little behind on your new ones but ice read all of the older ones. Just had a new baby boy he’s 4 months and I have a 4 year old and 9 year old they sure keep me busy but hopefully real soon ill get another book of yours to read and enjoy it during peaceful kids bedtimes!

  5. I love the simplicity of the way the Amish celebrate Christmas. We need to celebrate Christ first and then family. Too much emphasis on the secular world’s view of Christmas these days.

  6. The first Amish book I read was The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club. I was hooked and have been reading them since. I really enjoy the stories you tell.

  7. We do have trees and lights but our Christmas celebration sounds similar to what the Amish Do. Our school programs are earlier in the month. And we have a Christmas Eve church service.

  8. We have 2 things that HAVE to be made at Christmas time.
    12 oz. box Crispix cereal
    1/2 cup butter
    1 cup peanut butter
    12 oz. pkg. semisweet chocolate chips
    2-3 cups powdered sugar

    In medium microwave-safe bowl, combine butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips and microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring once during cooking, until mixture is melted and smooth. Place the cereal in another large bowl and pour the melted mixture over the cereal. Stir until the cereal is thoroughly coated.
    Pour the powdered sugar into a large plastic food bag.(Paper sack works best) Pour the coated cereal into the powdered sugar and shake until it is well covered with the sugar. Pour the cereal onto wax paper to cool and dry. Store in tightly covered containers at room temperature.
    3cups Corn Chex™ cereal
    3cups Rice Chex™ cereal
    3cups Wheat Chex™ cereal
    1cup mixed nuts
    1cup bite-size pretzels
    1cup garlic-flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into 1-inch pieces
    6tablespoons butter or margarine
    2tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    1 1/2teaspoons seasoned salt
    3/4teaspoon garlic powder
    1/2teaspoon onion powder


    1 In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and bagel chips; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.
    2 Microwave uncovered on High 5 to 6 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

  9. I love your books! I have a great lot of them. Everywhere I go I look for books written by you so sometimes I end up with doubles and triples. I love Christmas books. Sounds like the Amish have a very good way of spending Christmas I don’t think you have to have the blinking lights, and all the other stuff to make it beautiful. Love makes it beautiful and also it is not about presents, lights, and all the pretty stuff but only about the Reason For The Season JESUS. Being healthy and together for Christmas is the best present. We have a meal at church before Christmas and then we will have a service at church on Christmas EVE. Please keep writing the great books and may you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year.

  10. I love my Mother’s hot fruit salad which has been in my family for several years. After I read one of your books I knew I had to visit Lancaster. That one trip was so peaceful we went 3 months later. I read Luella’s Promise last night. A great short story.

  11. Living near Lancaster County Pennsylvania, I love to experience the peacefulness and simplicity of the Amish way during the holidays. It definitely helps to keep things in perspective with all of the hustle and bustle around.

  12. We used to decorate a lot for Christmas, but as we are getting older and the younger ones now
    have families of their own and need to stay home more, we have down sized a lot. But still
    have a covered dish dinner for all our families to get together. I still have to bake an
    Applesauce Cake or Oatmeal Cake. Hope you have a blessed Christmas and the best of a New

  13. I was not much a of reader, nothing kept my interest, until last year i picked up one of your books, and i have read a ton of them, cant stop, on a role. at the age of 58 I thank you so much. Dont stop writing, or i will be lost again. thanks and have a wonderful Christmas.

  14. Wish I could say I have a favorite Christmas recipe but I really don’t cook! I wish our family had more traditions but hubby’s family never did and instead of going with traditions of my family, we don’t really celebrate anymore.

  15. Growing up I always remember around the Christmas season eating herring in vinegar or creamed. I loved it. My kids and husband don’t care for it so I’ve gotten away from eating it but still hold onto the memories. One tradition that carried forward is making rock candy. When I was around 10 yrs old I sampled some at a friend’s house and asked for the recipe. My mom started to make it every year thereafter. When I got married I brought a copy of the recipe with me and continued to make it every year. Now I don’t have to make any as my two daughters make enough for our family to enjoy and they give batches of candy to relatives and friends as an early Christmas gift. Favorite flavors are cinnamon, wintergreen, and butterscotch. I never would have guessed I’d start a Christmas tradition simply by asking for a recipe when I was a kid in the 70s. Wishing you and your family a Blessed Christmas!!

  16. I used to make a cookie/candy tray for family & friends but getting older my feet bother me too much to stand that long. I may make a batch of cutout cookies & some fudge for the grand & great grandkids. Christmas has gotten so commercialized, it’s too bad we can’t go back to how things were when I was a kid.

  17. I don’t really have a favorite Christmas recipe, but I do have a favorite tradition we did as I was a kid growing up. Everyone would come to our house on Christmas Eve so we would have a house full! Mom would have pots of different soup simmering on the stove. Usually there would be vegetable soup, chicken and rice soup, chili, and the dreaded oyster soup. We always had such a wonderful time together.

  18. I miss the simpler Christmas time of my youth, but I do like that My cinnamon rolls, hot out of the oven, are in demand every Christmas (even though it means getting up about three hours before everyone else).

  19. Hi Wanda! I love your books and so does my 84 year old mother! I would love to win the autographed copies of The Westward Brides Christmas Collection. What a gift for my mother that would be! Thanks so much for writing good and descent books. I can tell you are a Christian! As far as a favorite dish for Christmas, I make Éclairs from scratch. Thanks again and Merry Christmas!

  20. This sounds yummy. I am going to use it this holiday season along with all the yummy cookies and candies i usually make.

  21. When my Dad and mom were around , we always had lots of different types of cookies that we made. Lady Finger’s , Peanut Butter cookies, date bars , kiss cookies , coconut bon bon’s . we also had apple pie’s , lemon , cherry , and sometimes blue berry. we always had a beautiful tree . We opened presents early Christmas morning . It was such a better time . always had a good time .

  22. I love all your books and was blessed in seeing you in person in our town this year. My mother always make a sausage egg casserole for breakfast on Christmas morning. We go to church on Christmas Eve and when we came home would be allowed to open one present from a family member. In the morning we were allowed to open our stockings which were at the foot of our bed until 7:00 a.m when we were then allow to wake our parents. I love the simple ways of the Amish and have visited Lancaster, PA and the Amish villages in Ohio.

  23. Love your book’s and recipes. Many I’ve tried. I have been making lots of oatmeal cookies, I even tried putting apples in it.

  24. I think I’d really enjoy an Amish-style Christmas. The simplicity is very appealing. (It also doesn’t hurt that they include the Christmas cookies!)

  25. I love your books and recipes. I have a long drive to work every day and I listen to your books both coming and going 5 days a week. I have probably listened to every one of your books on tape 2 or 3 times. I can’t wait for your next one. Thank you for making that long drive relaxing for me!

  26. My favorite Christmas recipe is Santa’s Favorite Cookies, which contain red and green M & Ms and red and green sprinkles. Because my granddaughters love them!

  27. It would be hard to choose a favorite Christmas recipe. I used to make a lot of cookies for family and holiday party for family and friends. I always made chess cake squares (taste similar to pecan pie), coconut squares (additive!), and cheesecake squares;for Christmas dinner pecan pie was dessert (recipe from Shakertown, KY). I also loved my Kentucky Jam Cake for book club or Christmas dinner. Because of health issues, I no longer can have nuts or any kind so I make only the cheesecake squares and look for others without nuts. My nativities are remind me of what Christmas means. I have fewer up since I said that I would reduce the number when I turned 80 (now 81); one year I had over 100 out!). Each is different and I enjoy so much moving around the house, seeing them as I decorate the tree and then wrap presents. Sorry for the long message, but one I started —

  28. My grandmother’s ginger cookies. She made them very thin. We have the recipe but thedo not taste the same. I enjoy making sugar cookies and we have several recipes that we use. We are trying to make things simpler but I enjoy putting up our nativities.

  29. I love all your books the style that they are written in and just the way they end. You don’t make all books a really happy ending and I like it. Also I just love that you write about the Amish and don’t care about what others might think about you for writing about the Amish.

  30. My favorite recipe is “Candied Walnuts.” They take a lot of work, but they are worth it. I only make them at Christmas time.
    Thank you for all your books. I enjoy them so much.

  31. I like to bake and make candy however, this year I wont be doing a lot due to health reasons. My grandchildren and I will bake a couple of cookie recipes as we have every year.

  32. It wouldn’t be Christmas without my sugar cookies. My family looks forward to these every year. . I have to make 5 batches so everyone can enjoy some on Christmas Day and have some to take home.

    Cut Outs
    3 and 1/4 cup flour
    2 teaspoons (heaping) baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 and 1/2 sticks butter
    1 cup sugar
    Beat hunter and sugar until fluffy
    Beat in eggs
    Stir in flour with added salt and baking powder
    A third at a time.
    Roll out not thin but a little thick.
    Use cookie cutters and then place on greased baking sheet bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes
    Cool and then Friday and decorate.
    Then enjoy one or two!

    Merry Christmas

  33. Hello,
    I really love the monthly newsletters, it is a form of research for me. I love reading Amish books and writing them. Do you think a writer that has no experience with Amish culture shouldn’t be attempting to write about them? I have three Amish books written but I am afraid that they will have wrong details and explanations and not research enough!! 🙁
    Thanks for the lovely news on Amish Christmas!
    PS my family has no Christmas traditions but we like decorating gingerbread houses!

    1. My advise concerning writing about the Amish is to get to know the Amish personally, and know them well. Every Amish community is slightly different, and whenever I choose to write about a different Amish community I get the Amish and the area well.

  34. My favorite Christmas recipe is a fish pie that my Nonna (my Dad’s mom) would make every Christmas Eve. I know it probably sounds disgusting, but it really was delicious. She made it in a special over sized round pan that she brought over from Italy, & it had onions & green olives in it, too.

  35. We always loved my Mother’s sage dressing! My Dad always wanted my peanut brittle. We always try to have one new dish now at Christmas.

  36. My favorite recipe is a Peppermint Candy Cake…….my ex mother-in-law use to make it every year at Christmas. She is no longer with us, but her daughter did pick up her recipe and is now making them now. i never knew what ingredients it took ….but do know that the icing was something like a divinity tasting icing and with peppermint sprinkled on the cake and also some was in the icing. Was the best cake.

  37. My favorite Christmas recipe is sweet potato casserole. I use my mom’s recipe. I enjoy reading your books.

  38. Hi Wanda, thank you for sharing about how the Amish celebrate Christmas. I love reading the books written about the Amish set at Christmastime! An awesome blessing to read the stories about the Christmas season. The way they enjoy family and have so much fun together blesses my heart!! I remember Christmas time with my grandparents especially! My favorite cake to make during the holidays is a Maple Nut Cake. It is the only time of the year I make the cake. Hope you and your family have a wonderful blessed Christmas celebrating Jesus!!

  39. Merry Christmas!
    I too wish that we could rewind to a time with more heartlight and less neon. Although, I must say, one of my favorite Christmas memories growing up are of simply driving around looking at all the houses in the neighborhood decorated in lights. “Chunky” lights have always been my favorite.
    Another Christmas memory is of all the children in our church wrapping an empty box to put by the nativity scene on Christmas Eve. The boxes were empty of material things but inside we “put” a gift for Jesus which could be a promise, a prayer, or anything we wanted that came from our hearts.
    My very favorite recipe for the season:

    Red and Green Holiday Poke Cake

    2 baked 9-inch round white cake layers, cooled
    2 cups boiling water, divided
    1 pkg. (3 oz.) Cherry gelatin, or any red flavor
    1 pkg. (3 oz.) Lime Flavor Gelatin
    1 tub (8 oz.) Whipped Topping, thawed
    Your Creativity for decorating top of cake! I’ve used red colored sugar on top to make a “peppermint” twirl pattern; cut up red and green gum drops to make “Holly…”

    Place cakes, top-sides up, in clean 9-inch round pans; pierce with large fork at 1/2-inch intervals.
    Add 1 cup boiling water to each flavor dry gelatin mix in separate small bowls; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved. Pour red gelatin over 1 cake and lime gelatin over remaining cake. Refrigerate 3 hours.
    Dip bottoms of cake pans in warm water 10 sec.; unmold. Fill and frost cake layers with whipped topping. Refrigerate 1 hour.

  40. I love the simplicity of the Amish and I love the dept of their beliefs especially “It’s Gods Will”. I get a lot of inspiration from reading books about the Amish I also love how humble they are and we could all learn a lot from them on forgiving!

  41. I used to make sugar cookies with my kids when they were growing up. Also made them and peanut butter cookies with my grandson for several years.

  42. My mother always makes the most delicious fruit cakes for Christmas. When they are baking it smells like Christmas.

  43. I have always been fascinated by the amish. The funny thing is…My married name is Yoder! Our youth director at my church was amish and I love talking to him about his childhood and way of life. I love amish recipes and can’t wait to try this one.

  44. My mom and I would bake Christmas cookies and breads for the holidays. Then we would take some to our friends and family.

  45. We always have soups Christmas Eve and I agree with Karie…the dreaded oyster stew. My Mom and her sister always made candy. I loved the pink divinity and different fudges and making many kinds of cookies. Our tradition was taking plates full of the sweets to neighbors and friend and spreading Holiday cheer to everyone we meet. Marla

  46. i just love the amish and the amish ways of life, i have amish friends in indiana that my husband and i visit several times a year. they are wonderful people, and she just had her 9th baby two days ago, i love amish recipes and books also.

  47. My chicken dressing casserole has been our favorite for many years. However, I am looking forward to my daughter’s Vanilla Bean Cheesecake. It is so good! It has become our favorite Christmas dessert.

  48. I always enjoy reading stories about the Amish and their simpler way of life. In many ways I wish my life could be more like theirs. I do enjoy cooking, baking and canning. I do not have daughters to share that all with, but my sons have learned much and enjoy helping, especially with canning.
    Christmas is a fun time for me trying out new recipes and sharing cookies and candies with those around me.

  49. My favorite food memory of Christmas as a child was when my mother baked many dozen butter cookies and then fixed red, green, white and yellow colored frosting and got out the decorative sprinkles. She would sit my bother and I down at the table covered with cookies and our job was to decorate them all. We would search through the tiny round colored sprinkles for two blue ones for snowmen eyes, drip white frosting on green trees to form garland, etc. It took us hours to complete the job. These are my favorite Christmas cookies now, and I make them and had my children decorate them and then the grandchildren when they are here for Christmas.

  50. Sausage Balls! They’re simple to make, can be made ahead of time & even frozen. 3 Cups Bisquick, 1 lb. hot roll sausage & 1 lb. of extra sharp cheddar cheese(grated) Put all 3 ingredients in a big bowl & squish together with your hands. Once they’re all mixed together well, pull out hunks & roll into balls (about the size of an English walnut). Bake about 25 minutes at 350°. You probably could mix it all together in a food processor. Also, I let the sausage & cheese set out for a while before hand, so it’s easier to work into the Bisquick. Merry Christmas!

  51. My hubby makes fudge and gives it away as Christmas gifts like to the mailman and different ones. He makes several different kinds so it hard to pass it up. Our Christmas meal is pretty basic but always more than enough. Happy Holidays to all.

  52. Pat in pa writes
    I very much like the Christmas yule log. I used to buy it at a local bakery until I found out i could make it myself. I recently visited an Amish family in indiana.
    They are truly beautiful people. They were expecting their 7th child. What joy.

  53. My favorite Chrisrmas recipe is old fashioned chcolate fudge made with marshmallows. I make it every year. I enjoy your newsletter. I’m glad to seemThe Amish Millionare in one book, because one of my books in the series got lost when sharing. Merry Christmas.

  54. This recipe sounds delicious. I like to make a garden vegetable dip and serve it in the center of a loaf of sourdough bread.

  55. My grandmother used to make a Cucumber Dip very similar to your recipe. I am going to try your
    recipe. I know it will bring back memories of my days visiting grandparents on their farm.

  56. Dear Wanda, Thank you for your writings. I do love Christmas and several recipes. I love Cherry wink cookies. I love sausage balls and deviled eggs and homemade coconut cake.

  57. Dear Wanda,
    As an immigrant from England to Adelaide Australia it has taken me several years to get used to Christmas in the Summer going from snow to the beach. It still seems odd. Coming from a large family it was roast turkey and Christmas pudding which we all had to stir before it was cooked in a cloth in the clothes copper. Making paper chains by the yard and lots of games.
    Here in Australia we eat outdoors and have Turkey with lots of salad and ice cream Christmas pudding.
    My recipe for Ice Cream Christmas Pudding
    Make or buy fruit cake a litre of ice cream some glaze cherries and mix with hands, then freeze.
    I have read many of your books and love the Amish way of life and their large families (reminds me of mine) Our library has to go all over Australia to get the books for me so they are very well read here.
    All the blessings to you and your family for Christmas and New Year.
    Margarete Winston.

  58. I love Christmas and admire the way the Amish celebrate the real reason … Jesus’s birth. Love your books and learning more about the Amish way of life. Thanks for the opportunity to enter the contest for a copy of The Westward Brides Christmas Collection. I have been trying to order it but could not find it available. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  59. I used to make sandbakkels (Scandinavian cookies) for Christmas, but now that I live alone I don’t do much baking. I will probably spend about two weeks at my son’s home to be with my son and grandchildren for the holidays. I’ll make a nice dinner for Christmas and we’ll see if they like plum pudding with brandy sauce for dessert. When I was a child, it was my favorite part of Christmas dinner. To me, the best Christmas gift is the love shared with family and friends.

  60. Merry Christmas to you and all your readers.
    Three years ago my husband and I moved into a little log cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin. That alone has forced us to really simplify our life. (Simplify yes, but work very hard.) And I am so grateful!
    Last night we had an old fashioned snowstorm and our woods is so beautiful that it can’t help but make you appreciate God’s glory. Simple things make my heart just swell.
    I am looking forward to our family gathering when our cabin is bursting at the seems with our children and their families. ( 12 grandchild makes for much fun.) We have lots of snacky foods and sweets and hot cider all day, build snowmen and slide down the sled hill on everything from sleds to cardboard boxes. Grandpa and I try to at least go down the hill once with the children . They need to see us adults play together with them too.

  61. My Mother’s Sweet potatoes- sweet potatoes peeled, sliced & fried in the black frying pan with butter, shortening, salt & pepper till soft…put some brown sugar on them and Kings syrup. There the best! God Bless you, your family & Merry Christmas.

  62. I love baking at Christmas. There’s just something about the smell of the different spices that really make it special.

  63. My Mother would make German Pfferneuse cookies the day after Thanksgiving, so they could “age.” She’d hide them, except for a decoy container, left where my Dad could find it, and he’d think he’d found her secret hiding place! 🙂 She served them on Christmas day when the extended family came over!

  64. My favorite Christmas recipe is the special cookie that my Mother was famous for. It was passed down to her from my Grandmother, and I’m not sure if it was passed on to her from her Mother or not. Anyway, it’s a prune cookie which you could substitute your own filling in, and I have when I’ve run out of prunes, but people don’t realize they’re eating them. They are very labor-intensive, and take 2 days to make. I am the only Daughter in the family who is without children (not by choice), and have continued the tradition. Whenever I make them, I feel as if my Mother is there with me, like the way I was there to help her as a small girl, helping her to make them. One batch makes around 200 cookies!! My next goal is to try her sweet home baked cinnamon bread with raisins!! Have a very blessed Christmas and the best New Year!!

  65. I love your books and have read them all. When my kids were growing up they loved to make and decorate Christmas sugar cookies. Now that they are all adults they still carry on that tradition together.

  66. I so much enjoy reading your monthly newsletters and books. They are so refreshing and relaxing. Favorite Christmas recipe for me is: Old-fashioned mince meat pie. Unfortunately, it seems I am the only one that acquired a special taste for that delicious pie, and those who made it best are no longer with us. Have a Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year.

  67. My mother and I like to make Zucchini Bread, potato candy, Oreo balls and cookies to give to others. We always have Christmas brunch with cinnamon rolls, eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy. Sometimes we will have hashbrown casserole. I just love being with my family for Christmas.

  68. I love Apple Salad! My grandma used to make it every year for Christmas. I also now love Green Bean Casserole, and this year, we’ll also be adding Amish Cornbread Salad (thanks to the new cookbook I won a few months ago!) 🙂

  69. My family’s favorite tradition on Christmas Eve is chili dogs! There are three of us so we don’t do a big meal on Christmas day either. Usually just grill filet mignon with twice-baked potatoes and asparagus. I think keeping things simple like the Amish is important. Less stress.

  70. My favorite thing to make for Christmas are Special K Peanut Butter cookies. They are so easy to make and kids love them.

    1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 cup Karo syrup. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp. Vanilla, 12oz creamy peanut butter. Mix well. Add 5 cups Special K cereal. Mix until well coated. Scoop by teaspoonful onto wax paper. Let cool.
    I can have a double batch done in half an hour.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family.

  71. My favourite Christmas recipe would have to be my Mama’s Seven Layer Salad. She made it for several different occasions & gatherings, but it was always a staple of Christmas dinner. I miss the salad this year as my Mama is spending Christmas with Jesus now, but I dearly miss the loving, sweet lady that prepared it. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you & yours.