Umbitter was a name applied to a deacon by the Mennonites of Prussia when he performed special duties in regard to betrothals. Only few references can be found. Mannhardt states (p. 112) that it was the duty of the Umbitter or the minister to go and ask the parents of a girl whether she would be willing to marry a certain young man. He states that on 5 May 1765, it was reported at the brotherhood meeting that the honored tradition that two Umbitters take the marriage proposal to the parents of the girl was falling into disrepute and that some young men were beginning to make their own proposals, even without the knowledge of the parents. It is likely that the Umbitter was also a handy man in taking notices and invitations from home to home or announcing in writing the approaching marriages and funerals. This tradition, no doubt, was transplanted from Holland to Prussia and was perpetuated in Russia and among the Prussian Mennonites of America. Most traces of this practice disappeared during the 19th century. No detailed study of the duties and the practices in connection with the Umbitter has been made. The counterpart of the Umbitter in the Amish congregations was the Steckliman.
Mannhardt, H. G. Die Danziger Mennonitengemeinde. Danzig, 1919: 112-13.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 772. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Krahn, Cornelius. "Umbitter." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/U447.html.
APA style: Krahn, Cornelius. (1959). Umbitter. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/U447.html.