After living in southern Manitoba for more than two decades, Samantha Williams, originally from Saskatoon, still can’t tell the difference between the various Anabaptist denominations.
“There’s the Mennonites – I think they’re the ones with the little black hats,” remarked Williams, who works as a lab technician at a local pharmaceutical manufacturer. “Then there’s the Hutterites – the ones with the long dresses, I think. I don’t know, they all wear long dresses. Which is the one where the men wear collared shirts and suspenders?”
Williams says she sometimes goes to the self-help on Saturdays to take notes, but even so, she’s not quite sure who is who.
“I’ve had locals try to explain it to me before. Hutterites. Holdemans. Sommerfelders. Subtle differences in hats and kerchiefs and dress patterns. One group lives all together in a colony. One group forbids radios. One group has long beards. It’s all so confusing,” said Williams. “I think I could live here another twenty years and I still wouldn’t get it straight.”
Williams was also shocked to discover that some Mennonites are so liberal that their dress is completely indistinguishable from the rest of society.
“Ugh. I just wish they’d dress distinctly enough that I could tell who the Mennonites are around here,” she said. “If they’re wearing Aeropostale T-shirts and skinny jeans, how am I going to know who to go to for a really great borscht recipe?”
(Photo Credit by Roger W./CC)