Thursday, April 2, 2015

Low German Helje Doag (holy days) Religious holidays


Christmas – Wienachten December 25th, 26th and 27th 

Epiphany – Helje Dree Kjeenijch (Day of the Three Holly Wise Men) January 6

Good Friday – Stelle Friedach (Quiet Friday)

Easter – Oostren Sunday, Monday and Tuesday

Ascension Day – Himmelfoat the 6th Thursday after Easter

Pentecost – Pinjsten the 7th Sunday after Easter and the Monday and Tuesday that follow

Old Colony Mennonite church in Bluemenort Nuevo Ideal Durango Mexico


We call holidays Helje Doag (holy days) referring especially to those holidays with a three-day commemoration. We observe Easter Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, in the colonies during which we do not work or do business transactions.  We also observe three days for Pentecost and three days for Christmas, in which there are church services on Sunday morning and Monday morning.

Low German families in Canada may miss school, work and other appointments on these days.

We call the day before each of these holidays Helje Owent on these days there is no school in the colonies in Mexico. The whole family works hard to prepare for the holiday or holidays to follow.

On the third holiday the Tuesday there are no church services so the ministers can have a free day to spend with their families.

Christmas – Wienachten is a tree day holiday we call the first, second and third day of Christmas. On Helje Owent too Wienachten (holy night) each child sat a bowl on the table by their spot where we ate. Christmas morning Santa had put gifts into the bowls such as peanuts, candy, store bought cookies, socks, a handkerchief, material for a dress and sometimes a toy. After church services, most people have family gatherings.

Epiphany – Helje Dree Kjeenijch (Day of the Three Holly Wise Men) we observe this one-day holiday on January 6.

Good Friday – Stelle Friedach (Quiet Friday) we observe Stelle Friedach as a one day holiday after church in the morning. Where Christ’s suffering is portrayed, we have a quiet lunch at home with our mom, dad, brothers and sisters. There is no visiting on the afternoon, as on a regular Sunday, so there is hardly any traffic in the colonies at all it truly is a quiet Friday.

Every Stelle Friedach mom got  a box full of books out for us to look at. In the box were the Bible, the Testament, the Catechism, the Fible and some books we had no idea what they were. I remember always picking this one book and looking at the pictures because I couldn't read it.


Now that I can read I have often wondered what that book was about. While visiting my colony during the Christmas Helje Doag, I asked my mom if she still had that book and she remembered exactly which one was my favorite. It is a High German dictionary that my grandpa got from his dad that someone had given to his grandpa from Russia. I still love it as much as I did when I was living at home.

Little did I know twenty some years later I would read books about my grandpa and his grandpa in English. And that this book I loved but couldn't read had traveled with them all along.

Easter – Oostren on Helje Owent too Oostren (the night before Easter) we made a little nest inside a bowl on the table. Easter Sunday morning there were Easter eggs and a little coke in the nest that the Oosta hos (Easter bunny) had put in for us then we would go outside yet and search for a bag of treats the Oosta hos (Easter bunny) had hidden for us.

Ascension Day– Himmelfoat is a one day holiday we observe, it is the 6th Thursday after Easter commemorating Jesus’ return to haven.

Pentecost – Pinjsten this is when the Old Colony youth are baptized, the only time of the year. Observing these three days to allow the bishops to visit all the Old Colony churches to perform the ceremony of baptism. If there are applicants still not baptized, they observe the following Sunday as well. After this, they wait until the following year for baptism.

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