Pennsylvania Dutch

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Pennsylvania Dutch

[Ger. Deutsch=German], people of E Pennsylvania of German descent who migrated to the area in the 18th cent., particularly those in Northampton, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, Lebanon, York, and adjacent counties. The colony of Pennsylvania, established by William Penn as a refuge for Quakers, offered other groups the prospect of religious freedom. In 1683 the village of Germantown was established by a group of MennonitesMennonites
, descendants of the Dutch and Swiss evangelical Anabaptists of the 16th cent. Beliefs and Membership

While each congregation is at liberty to decide independently on its form of worship and other matters, Mennonites generally agree on certain
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 led by Francis Daniel Pastorius, and in succeeding years other groups, such as the Dunkards and the Moravians, settled in Pennsylvania. However, the bulk of immigration occurred after 1710, when the Germans from the Palatinate first arrived. Many of these people had sought economic and religious freedom in England; from there a number were sent to the Hudson valley to engage in the production of naval stores, but with the failure of that project many Palatines moved to Pennsylvania. Enthusiastic reports brought other settlers from Germany, until by the time of the American Revolution the population of Pennsylvania, according to Benjamin Franklin, was one-third German.

At first the large influx of German settlers antagonized the English, but they were gradually accepted, and during the Revolution they provided valuable assistance. Most of the settlers engaged in farming, at which they were extremely successful. For the most part they maintained their own language and customs; the family became the principal economic and social unit, and the church was next in importance.

The aim of the various religious denominations was to establish a Christian, democratic society; for many years they opposed public schooling, preferring to retain their own standards and manners, and they strongly resisted signs of progress and worldly living. Several of the churches are completely pacifistic, such as the Amish and the Mennonites. The Amish are particularly strict in the matter of dress, maintaining a simple but distinctive garb, and also have a strong aversion to automobiles, electric lights, and telephones. The Amish have continued to oppose public schooling, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that the Amish were exempt from state compulsory education laws. The Church of the Brethren, incorrectly but popularly known as the Dunkards or Dunkers from their manner of baptism, and the Schwenkfelders are two other denominations.

The Pennsylvania Dutch, or Pennsylvania German, language is a blend of several dialects, essentially Palatinate, with some admixture of standard German and English. A substantial Pennsylvania German literature, art, and architecture exists. Many written records were adorned with illuminated writing, and such articles as pottery, furniture, needlework, and barns made use of decorative motifs, often of a highly artistic nature. Their buildings are usually of heavy stone and timber construction, with steep roofs and small, irregular windows. Pennsylvania Germans have contributed much to the culture of Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania German Society, organized in 1891, has published much material relative to the history and folklore of the Pennsylvania Dutch.


See J. F. Sachse, The German Sectarians of Pennsylvania, 1708–1800 (2 vol., 1889; repr. 1971); W. Beidelman, The Story of the Pennsylvania Germans (1898, repr. 1969), L. O. Kuhns, The German and Swiss Settlements of Colonial Pennsylvania (1901, repr. 1971); A. Long, The Pennsylvania German Family Farm (1972); J. J. Stoudt, Pennsylvania German Folk Art (rev. ed. 1966) and Sunbonnets and Shoofly Pies: Pennsylvania Dutch Cultural History (1973); E. C. Haag, A Pennsylvania German Anthology (1988).

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Pennsylvania Dutch

The German-speaking immigrants and their descendants who settled in Pennsylvania primarily during the 18th century. For examples of their architecture, See bank barn, forebay barn, German Barn, hex barn, Pennsylvania Dutch barn, pfeiler, rauchkammer, springhouse.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Shrove Tuesday

Between February 3 and March 9; day before Ash Wednesday
There are a number of names in the West for the last day before the long fast of Lent. The French call it Mardi Gras (meaning "Fat Tuesday"), because it was traditionally a time to use up all the milk, butter, and eggs left in the kitchen. These ingredients often went into pancakes, which is why the English call it Pancake Day and still celebrate it with games and races that involve tossing pancakes in the air.
Other names include Shuttlecock (or Football ) Day, after sports associated with this day; Doughnut Day ; Bannock (or Bannocky ) Day (a bannock being the Scottish equivalent of a pancake), and Fastingong (meaning "approaching a time of fast"). The name "Shrove Tuesday" is derived from the Christian custom of confessing sins and being "shriven" (i.e., absolved) just before Lent.
In northern Sweden, people eat a meat stew. In the south, they eat Shrove Tuesday buns called semlor, made with cardamom, filled with almond paste, and topped with whipped cream.
No matter what its name, the day before Ash Wednesday has long been a time for excessive eating and merrymaking. The Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans is typical of the masquerades and dancing in the streets that take place in many countries on this day as people prepare for the long Lenten fast.
See also Carnival; Cheese Sunday; Cheese Week; Fasching; Fastens-een
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 128
EncyEaster-2002, p. 561
OxYear-1999, p. 606

Celebrated in: Estonia, Finland, Netherlands

Shrove Tuesday (Bohemia)
Between February 3 and March 9; day before Ash Wednesday
In the Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, a mummer known as the "Oats Goat" traditionally is led from house to house on Shrove Tuesday. He dances with the women of the house, and in return they feed him and give him money. Like the Fastnachtsbär (or Shrovetide Bear) in parts of Germany, the Oats Goat is dressed in straw and wears horns on his head. He is associated with fertility; at one time it was widely believed that dancing with the Fastnachtsbär ensured the growth of crops.
DictFolkMyth-1984, pp. 370, 807

Shrove Tuesday (Estonia)
Between February 3 and March 9; day before Ash Wednesday
Schools are closed in Estonia on the last day before Lent, known as Vastla Päev, and children often spend the entire day sledding. At night, their mothers serve a traditional Shrove Tuesday soup, which is made from pigs' feet boiled with dried peas or lima beans. After dinner, the children play with the vuriluu kont, or the bones left over from the pigs' feet soup. A hole is drilled in each bone and a doubled rope is inserted through the hole. When the contrivance is manipulated in a certain way it causes a terrific rattle, which delights the children and is a traditional way to end the day's celebration.
BkFest-1937, p. 102

Celebrated in: Estonia

Shrove Tuesday (Finland)
Between February 3 and March 9; day before Ash Wednesday
Children in Finland often spend Shrove Tuesday, a school holiday, sledding and enjoying other outdoor sports. According to an old folk saying, the better the coasting and the longer the hills one rides on Laskiaispäivä, the more bountiful the coming harvest will be. A typical Finnish meal on this day would include pea soup and blini, or rich pancakes, served with caviar and smetana, a kind of sour milk. A typical dessert consists of wheat buns filled with almond paste, placed in deep dishes, and eaten with hot milk.
There are many folk beliefs surrounding Shrove Tuesday. At one time, women would not spin on this day, believing that if they did, no flax would grow the following summer. Men refrained from planing wood, the common wisdom being that if farm animals walked on the chips made by the planes, their feet would become swollen and sore.
BkFest-1937, p. 111

Celebrated in: Finland

Shrove Tuesday (Netherlands)
Between February 3 and March 9; day before Ash Wednesday
The day preceding the Lenten fast is known as Vastenavond (Fast Eve) in the Netherlands, where it is a time for feasting and merrymaking. In the provinces of Limburg and Brabant, it is customary to eat pancakes and oliebollen, or rich fried cakes with currants, raisins, and apples added. Brabant specializes in worstebrood, a special kind of bread that appears ordinary on the outside but is filled with spiced sausage meat.
In the southern part of the country, the Carnival season lasts for three days, beginning on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. In other areas, the celebration is confined to one day. The farmers of Schouwen-en-Duiveland, on the island of Zeeland, still observe the old Vastenavond custom of gathering at the village green with their horses in the afternoon. The animals are carefully groomed and decorated with paper roses. The men ride their horses down to the beach, making sure the animals get their feet wet. The leader of the procession toots on a horn. It is possible that this custom originated in an ancient spring purification rite, when blowing horns was believed to drive away evil spirits and getting wet was a symbolic act of cleansing.
BkFest-1937, p. 241
FestWestEur-1958, p. 124
FolkAmerHol-1999, p. 102

Celebrated in: Netherlands

Shrove Tuesday (Pennsylvania Dutch)
Between February 3 and March 9; day before Ash Wednesday
Among the Pennsylvania Dutch, work is taboo on Shrove Tuesday, just as it is on other religious holidays. There is an old superstition that if a woman sews on Shrove Tuesday, she will prevent her hens from laying their eggs. Some believe that sewing on this day means that the house will be visited by snakes during the spring and summer.
A special kind of cake or doughnut known as a fasnacht is eaten on this day. Rectangular with a slit down the middle, it is often soaked with molasses and then dunked in saffron tea. Sometimes the fasnachts were crumbled and fed to the chickens in the belief that it would prevent the hawks from snatching the chicks in the spring. Another old custom associated with Shrove Tuesday is "barring out," or locking the teacher out of the local school. In many areas, Christmas is barring-out day.
EncyChristmas-2000, p. 35
FolkAmerHol-1999, p. 100
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
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