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April 27, 2008

Hypochondriac diseases will prevail...

Amish_calender
I may have missed this before, but this is the first year I've seen the Calender printed in an English version as well as in the usual high German.

The bulk of the 88-page pamphlet, produced by an Ohio Amish printer, is a more-or-less comprehensive listing of Old Order Amish church districts along with their respective ministers.

The Calender/Almanac also contains a curious mixture of folk wisdom, Christian teaching, and astrology.

Astrology?  Sounds strange, especially for the Amish, but it seems to be the case.  For example, on the back cover, one finds a chart entitled Anatomy of Man's Body, As said to be governed by the twelve constellations.

                                                                                                                                 

Making Predictions

The 2008 Almanac also informs us that 'Jupiter is the Reigning Planet this year' and gives the prognosis for a range of topics:   

FISH.  Will everywhere be moderately abundant.

DISEASE.  In the Autumn headaches and hypochondriac diseases will prevail.

GRAPE CULTURE.  In the course of twenty-eight years it happens scarcely once--as the ancients say--that in one year of that series a good vintage will take place, and mostly but an ordinary wine will be produced.


The booklet also lists important days for the 2008 calendar year, including church feasts and the beginning and ending of the summer 'dog days', a listing of church readings and hymns, and Christian-themed poetry. 


It's curious to see the Amish distribute a guide with such a sizable dose of zodiac-infused 'wisdom'.

Though certain Amish may have had a history of buying into 'suspect' sources of wisdom--practicioners of the more 'hokey' medical practices come to mind--I'm not so sure the Amish take the astrological bit of the Calender so seriously, if at all. 

Since its much earlier incarnations, the almanac has typically contained folklorish bits of knowledge, good chunks of both astronomy and astrology, weather divination, and the like, and that tradition seems to have carried over into today's Calender.


Finally, the Calender/Almanac contains a fair dose of humor.  Here's a bit from this year's edition:

The mother of a 6-year old met him as he got off the bus and asked, "How was your school day?"

"Mom," he replied, "today our teacher asked me whether I had any brothers or sisters, and I told her I was an only child."

"And what did she say, dear?"

She said, "Thank goodness."


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Comments

I noticed the elaborate rendition of the seal of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on the cover of the Almanac. Never saw that one before.

Assuming they would mail a copy to me, do you know the price for the English version of the Almanac?

Also, thanks for the "shout out" in your previous entry Erik. :)

I love almanacs! This one sounds very interesting! Love the little joke at the end of your post too! Very funny!

Correctly that is not the "seal" but the coat of arms of Pennylvania.

Taking a closer look at the cover of the Almanac I notice the horses are seated rather than standing and the eagle atop the crest is facing backward rather than forward. Very interesting. Simply out of curiosity I'd like to find the source and story of this depiction.

I think that we shouldn't really be surprised by the whole astrology thing. There have been articles in the recent past that have addressed the Amish's willingness to pursue natural remedies. The moon has always seemed to play a part in the lives of Amish people, I remember when I was younger being told that you can only drive fence posts into the ground during certain phases of the moon, because if you don't they will be loose and eventually come up. It seems like mumbo jumbo but all the older men in my family seem to believe it.

Reid

Bill, thanks, you can order one from Raber, I will get the address and price as I'm away from home right now--it's just a couple of bucks as I recall. So it sounds like that is a rendition of something resembling the PA coat of arms but not exactly? We'll have to dig a bit deeper to figure that one out...

Reid that is an interesting anecdote. I am curious how it looks with today's generation...and how widespread such beliefs really are. To me there just seems to be a difference between your average 'folk' remedy and the astrological prediction type of stuff. But in the Calender you do see something resembling the latter. My gut feeling is that other parts of that book are used more frequently than the zodiac bits, but...sounds like you have some evidence of similar beliefs in your family.

Now that I think about it, in some ways it may fit in with the idea that the Amish tend to gravitate towards black and white interpretations of life, strict rules for maintaining order, etc...ie, evidenced by the fundamentalist appreciation of Scripture.

If the moon and even planets can tell you when to plant and so on, that's another comforting arrangement, especially in an occupation whose purveyors often end up victim to the whims of nature, ie storms, drought and the like.

That is sad... That the Almanac that the Amish use is full of astrology, divination, etc.. It is even sadder that one can not find a Almanac without such junk. As a Puritan I could not allow such into my house as it is against the laws of God. But I would love to have an Almanac to keep up-to-date with the long-range weather, natural remedies, and funny tidbits and stories along with Christian themed teachings and wisdom without the superstition, astrology, and divination stuff.

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