Monday, December 22, 2008

Pennsylvania Dutch Night Before Christmas

If you don't know, you'll know now: I live in Pennsylvania.

And if you don't know one thing that's big in Pennsylvania, let me tell you. It's a group of people who seem to be trapped in time circa 200 years ago. Things appear to the outside eye to be more simple for them and they seem more gracious of the lives they are given.

These people are the Amish, otherwise known locally as the Pennsylvania Dutch. Now, I live in coal country- which is another thing that Pennsylvania is very much known for. But just outside of the coal territory is Amish country where it's a daily occurrence to see horse and buggy traveling down the road.

They're very nice people, at least all the ones I have met, but they despise- hate- getting photos taken of them as if they're on display. I suppose I can understand their hurt feelings. They stay away from all modern technology and stick to the natural items of life.
I still, to this day, get really excited when I see a group of Amish people. In New York we simply did not have these people and I come to Pennsylvania and they're every where and a cause for great interest in my opinion.

Another thing I discovered upon this being my first Christmas where I've been fully living at this new house and not hoping back and forth between this house and school is the book Pennsylvania Dutch Night Before Christmas.

It's the classic "Night Before Christmas" tale except with the Pennsylvanian Dutch accent and imagery that is common amongst the PA Dutch such as cows and the familiar beard covered men in black. Don't forget the Hex Signs either!

I found it hilarious and yet incredibly captivating- this locally loved book- and immediately bought a copy for my family and one for my niece and nephew who live in Virginia. It's a great read if you're reading it out loud for the usage of the local dialect that is still used this very day. Such as 'outing' the lights= turning them off. And some random German terms thrown in there too. (Pennsylvanian Dutch are actually German, not Dutch. It's based off of the German name for Germany= Deutschland, which sounds a lot like "Dutch").

Here's an example:
It vas night before Christmas, und all over the farm,
Nothing vas schusslich, no cause for alarm.
The socks vere all hung by the chimney chust so.
Vith the hopes they get filled up from ankle to toe.*

The entire book is filled with that type of language and the story is quite funny with large colorful pictures along with it all. A great read for your children, especially if you're a good story teller whose great at doing voices. I suggest, however, to read it over once so you can at least try to get a handle on the hard German words and used to all the 'und's and 'vith's.

Next Book Up:
Erica is Bored at Work Series
Tuck Everlasting

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