3 Things you never knew about Mennonites that may shock you!

1)  Not all Mennonites refrain from dancing.

Mennonites come in many different flavors and in as many different opinions and views. The most liberal were the Chortitzers who openly went to barn dances and enjoyed the merriment it would bring. Oppositely, the Kliene Geminde branded any form of dancing (including waltzes, fox-trots, polkas etc) a clear sign of immorality and would have no problem frowning upon those who engaged in unnecessary foot exercises. There are however some break-away groups within the Kleine Geminde who consider Thai hand dancing acceptable if it's done in the company of others over Friday faspa.

2)  Frugality or being cheap is not necessarily a Mennonite trait.

Learning to live with less was a way of life for many Mennonites due to that fact that many came from poor regions and lands of great uncertainty. However, almost all families flourished at different times in history and many even became quite affluent. For many families, the frugality principles (or being cheap) remained in spite of having amassed great wealth. Oppositely, many Mennonites were very generous even though they had very little.  Various other Mennonite groups adopted a more modern approach, including tipping and giving away empty margarine containers instead of lending out Tupperware.

3) Mennonites very much enjoy fashion!  And that includes men and women alike!

One of the biggest misconceptions of the early Mennonites is that fashion trends and flashy garments were “not allowed”. The fact is that much of the “worldly dress” taboo came about as a result of over-zealous American fundamentalism that was brought up from the south.  The photo below is Helena P. Reimer, wearing her “Sunday best" circa 1942. (Notice the earrings, lipstick and modern hairstyle) She is seated behind the wheel, although she preferred leaving the driving to her oomptje.

While many congregations in encouraged simplicity, fashion itself was not at all something that was “forbidden”.  It may accurately be said that the idea of "dress code regulations" eventually slipped in with many other adopted legalisms of some Mennonite groups in the mid 20th century. The reality however, is that many Mennonites absolutely loved new styles and current fashion trends, which is evident by the many garment shops that flourished in Steinbach. Rieger Clothing, Reimers Dress Shop and Ketlers Fashions were some of the more well known garment businesses.


A stunningly beautiful photo of a Steinbach couple that might only be rivaled by  a Russian Tsar and Grand Dutchess!  Entrepreneur J.R. Friesen and Maria (Reimer) on their wedding day 1903.  A fashion statement that has stood the test of time! J.R. Friesen's father was the patriarch of the Friesen family business dynasty in Steinbach Manitoba.

Do you know any Duecks? :-)  Check out this whimsical parody hoodie by clicking on the image below.


Check out our gallery of Steinbach related images by clicking on the chicken below.

Or check out one of our many articles in the Mennonite Inquirer.



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