Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Book Winners!

Congratulations! Here are the winners of the Christmas Classics duo: Sally Starr, Karen Clinton, Monica Wilkinson, Juliana Rowe, Rita Clements, Shelly Huerta, Katie O'Hara, Judy Seyfert, Lee Ann Camp, and Johnda Scott. Your books will go out this afternoon. Thanks for playing, everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY

Just in time for your Christmas reading! I hope you enjoy reading and re-reading stories set at Christmas as much as I do. I especially loved writing the two Christmas romantic suspense novels that are included in my current Love Inspired Classics release: Season of Secrets and A Christmas to Die For.

Season of Secrets was one of those stories that writers love because it came together in just the way I pictured it in my imagination. Usually something is lost by the time the words get on the page! And A Christmas to Die For was such fun to write because I was able to include all the special Moravian Christmas traditions we love here in Pennsylvania.

So if you'd like a chance to win a copy, e-mail me at marta@martaperry.com by Tuesday, November 25th at Noon, Eastern time and be sure to include your name and mailing address in case you win one of the ten copies I'll be giving away.


I look forward to hearing from you!

Blessings,
Marta

Monday, November 3, 2014

AMISH CHRISTMAS CUSTOMS


AMISH CHRISTMAS CUSTOMS

Christmas is probably the most important celebration in the Amish year. In fact, it’s so important that it is actually observed by some Amish three times: Christmas Day, Second Christmas, and Old Christmas.

Christmas Day falls on December the 25th for the Amish as it does for other Christians, a day when the miracle of Christ’s birth is recognized with joy and awe. For such an important event, one day isn’t enough, so while time spent with the immediate family is the norm for Christmas Day, the day after Christmas, also called Second Christmas, is a day to celebrate with the extended family. Visiting and sharing a meal can be an extraordinary event when your extended family is as large as that of most Amish. There might be over fifty people there!

In many Amish groups, Old Christmas is still observed. Falling twelve days after December 25th, January 6th is the celebration of Epiphany, the arrival of the wise men to visit Jesus, and in the Middle Ages this was the culmination of the Christmas feast. When the Gregorian calendar replaced the older Julian calendar, the Pope set December 25th as the official Christmas Day, but many Protestants kept to the old calendar, celebrating on January 6th. The tradition has hung on among some Amish who celebrate on both days, with Old Christmas usually being a more solemn and religious day.

Whether they recognize Old Christmas or not, an Amish holiday is one that most people in contemporary society would consider very plain. Amish children don’t make lists for Santa Claus or pore through catalogs searching for the latest in electronic gear. Old Order Amish homes don’t have Christmas trees or elaborate light displays. The Amish Christmas celebration, like all of Amish life, is focused on faith, home, and family.

Holiday customs vary from one Amish community to another. More conservative communities have low key observances of the holidays. In Pennsylvania, the Amish are affected by the strong Pennsylvania German tradition, and they are more likely to have the customary Pennsylvania Dutch decorations.

Christmas decorations in a typical Pennsylvania Amish home may include lighting candles and placing them in the windows to symbolize the birth of Jesus. Many homes now use battery-powered candles that pose less threat of fire. Candles are sometimes also used with greens on the mantelpiece and tables. If you visit a home with young children, you’ll probably find doorways and windows draped with strings of paper stars, angels, and sometimes popcorn. If the family receives Christmas cards, they’ll probably be displayed so that they can be enjoyed time and again throughout the season.

Christmas cards are sent in some church districts and not others. With so many Amish working in jobs which bring them into daily contact with the Englisch, it has become more common for Amish families to send cards to Englisch friends, and the cards are almost always handmade.

The Putz is an important part of the Christmas decoration throughout the Pennsylvania German communities. The Putz, or manger scene, developed very early in the church’s history as a way of teaching children the story of Christ’s birth. If you visit Bethlehem or Lititz in Pennsylvania during the holiday season, you can see some beautiful, elaborate depictions, sometimes including other Biblical scenes in addition to the familiar manger depiction. The typical Amish putz is much simpler, using clay or wooden figures and possibly a stable. Some families embellish the scene with natural materials like straw and greenery. Using the Putz, the Christmas story is told over and over throughout the days leading up to Christmas.

The Moravian Star is a 26-point star, first used in Germany in the 1800s. The Moravian community that settled in Lititz has preserved the tradition of hanging the multi-pointed star, and many Amish homes also include the Moravian Star in their decorations as representing the Star of Bethlehem.

School celebrations are an important part of the Christmas season in most Amish areas. The children begin preparing their parts a month ahead, but their teachers have probably been busy since last year’s program in collecting materials to use! The program, presented before as many family and friends as can cram into the one-room schoolhouse, is usually composed of readings, poetry, skits, and the singing of Christmas carols. Every child participates, and parents hold their breath until their little scholar gets through his or her piece. Teachers sometimes exchange the skits and poems with each other, building up a collection so that they can provide something new to the audience, which has probably seen countless Christmas programs over the years. The theme of every poem and skit is that of gratitude for the gift of Christ and of the proper response of humility and love. This may be the only time that an Amish child “performs” in any way, but the audience is always uncritical and enthusiastic.

Gift-giving is part of the Amish Christmas celebration, but it has little resemblance to the avalanche of gifts common to a typical American household. The presents are often handmade and generally something that is useful. Younger children typically receive one toy from their parents, while other gifts might be handmade clothing, cloth dolls, or wooden toys. An older girl might welcome something for her future home, while tools are popular gifts for older boys. The Amish school often has a gift exchange among the children, and usually the children take great pleasure in making a gift for the teacher.

The Amish home will probably be perfumed with the aroma of cookie-baking and candy-making for weeks before the holiday. While you can usually find home-baked cookies on any day, the holidays call for something special, and Amish cooks preserve family recipes for the cookies and treats, passing them on from mother to daughter. Most Pennsylvania Dutch are known for the quality and variety of their Christmas cookies, and you’ll find some traditional ones from my family in the recipe section. Enjoy!

In addition to celebrating with immediate and extended families, most Amish adults have various groups which plan Christmas lunches and suppers. In fact, there are so many of these that they might still be going on in February! Groups of cousins, people who work together, girls who went through rumspringa at the same time—all of these and more may share a special Christmas treat together.

But the focus of the Amish Christmas celebration, as of all Amish life, is the family. Gathered around a groaning table spread with roast chicken, all the trimmings, and an endless array of breads, cakes, cookies, and homemade candy, the family celebrates Christmas together with humility and gratitude to God for His amazing gift.

Monday, October 27, 2014

HARVEST FESTIVAL TIME



It’s time for the Love Inspired Harvest Festival at the Harlequin community website! Be sure to stop by to chat with your favorite authors, enjoy their favorite recipes (and contribute some of your own) and celebrate the season!

Harvest Festival Events

Main Discussion (live all week)
http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/2401-Love-Inspired-Harvest-Festival-2014

Janet Tronstad's Writing Challenge (live all week)
http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/2429-Janet-Tronstad-s-Harvest-Barn-Writing-Challenge

Favorite Fall Recipes (live Monday but can continue all week)
http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/2430-Favorite-Fall-Recipes

Authors who provided recipes:
Sandra Orchard
Renee Andrews
Angel Moore
Laura Abbot
Marta Perry

Fabulous Fall Decorations (live Tuesday but can continue all week)

http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/2431-Fabulous-Fall-Decorations

Authors who provided photos:    
Sherri Shackelford
Janet Lee Barton

A Fall Stroll (live Wednesday but can continue all week)

http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/2432-A-Fall-Stroll

Authors who provided photos:
Christine Johnson

Fun Halloween Alternatives (live Thursday but can continue all week)
http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/2433-Fun-Halloween-Alternatives

Authors who provided photos
Angel Moore

Live Chat! Thursday night 8pm Eastern

http://community.harlequin.com/123flashchat/client/

Fall Crafts (live Friday)
http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/2434-Fall-Crafts

Monday, October 20, 2014

BOOK CONTEST!

Here's a new giveaway for my upcoming book from Love Inspired--An Amish Family Christmas! I'll be giving away ten copies, so if you're interested, be sure to e-mail me at marta@martaperry.com and include your mailing address in case you're a winner. The giveaway ends on Friday, Oct. 24 at Noon, and winners will be posted here. Good luck!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Looking Ahead

While I'm still enjoying the release of THE FORGIVEN last week (Number 7 on Amazon Inspirational Best Sellers!), I'm also looking ahead to the next book that's coming out, AN AMISH FAMILY CHRISTMAS, which is a collection of two Amish Christmas novellas. It will be in stores in early November, so I hope you'll be watching for it. My friend and fellow author Pat McDonald and I cooperated in producing two special Christmas stories for you to enjoy.



My story, Heart of Christmas, revolves around a lost love, two troubled children, and the Christmas program at an Amish school. Be sure to check back next week, when I'll be doing a special book giveaway of AN AMISH FAMILY CHRISTMAS!

Monday, October 6, 2014

COVER REVEAL!

I've received the go-ahead to show off the cover of the second book in my Keepers of the Promise series from Berkley Books. THE RESCUED will be out in June, 2015, and a lot of effort has gone into producing what I think is an absolutely lovely cover for the story. I had suggested showing a pony cart--something very common on Amish farms as the children learn to drive that way--and had sent several photos to my editor. I was delighted to see the result!

And don't forget that Book One, THE FORGIVEN, will be available in stores and online this week.