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.
Cite This Article
Krahn, Cornelius. "Umbitter." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 25 Feb 2018. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Umbitter&oldid=113975.
Krahn, Cornelius. (1959). Umbitter. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 February 2018, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Umbitter&oldid=113975.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 772. All rights reserved.
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