Today's goal was a relaxing, but educational, field trip. We began in the town of Lititz, home of the first pretzels. Founded in 1861, the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery was the first commercial pretzel bakery in America. Their daily factory tours are based at the original factory, and show the 19th century methods of pretzel-making.
We had the opportunity to try our hand at rolling and shaping pretzels, and learned the meaning of their unique shape. Italian monks used scraps of dough to form the shape of children’s arms in prayer, with three holes to represent the Christian Trinity. They were called “pretiola” in Latin or “little reward” and were given to children who learned their bible verses and prayers. Pretzel-makers were expected to make 50 pretzels / minute, a task that seems impossible!
After eating our pretzels, we headed to Lancaster, home of the second largest Amish population in the country (Holmes, OH is the largest). We decided to take a buggy ride through the countryside, and explore their lifestyle from afar. I had some reservations about the pseudo-voyeurism, but it seemed like a good cultural experience.
Our driver was a once-Amish woman who answered all of our questions candidly. She told us that the horse pulling us belonged to a guy named Caleb that stars in a tv show named Amish Mafia. Personally, I was confused. I thought that Amish folk didn't believe in electricity or graven images, so the thought of them starring in a series left me befuddled.
All of the kids sat up front and made sure to duck when the horse lifted it's tail!! We learned about mules, Amish traditions, and the ordnung. Along the way, we saw some beautiful countryside. As hoped, it was an educational, yet fairly relaxing, afternoon.
Amish Country unit :
- Pennsylvania lapbook (free)
- visual Volume Measurements (free)
- Amish Faith Through Fire - 4 book bundle
- Amish Quilting Patterns: 56 Full-Size Ready-to-Use Designs and Complete Instructions
- Amish Mafia (disclaimer - I have not seen this show)