The term Fancy Dutch or Gay Dutch refers to the Pennsylvania Germans who do not belong to the Anabaptist churches. They, unlike the Amish, conservative Dunkards, or Old Order Mennonites, do not wear plain clothing, nor do they refuse to fight in wars. Many popularly associated characteristics of Pennsylvania Dutch culture, including spielwerk, hex signs, and other aspects of Pennsylvania Dutch art, music, and folklore, are derived from the Fancy Dutch. The tourism industry and mainstream media often erroneously attribute such contributions to the more conservative Plain Dutch, though they would reject these aspects of their more worldly Fancy counterparts.
For most of the 19th century, the Fancy Dutch far outnumbered the Plain groups among the Pennsylvania Dutch. But since the two World Wars and the subsequent suppression of the German language in the US, there was a huge pressure on the Pennsylvania Germans to assimilate. Today however, most Pennsylvania German speakers are members of Plain groups, while the Fancy Dutch have mostly been assimilated into the larger culture of the United States. While Plain Dutch communities are centered on Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and Holmes County, Ohio, the Fancy Dutch live in the countryside surrounding Reading, Allentown, York and Lebanon.
- David W. Kriebel (2007). Powwowing Among the Pennsylvania Dutch: A Traditional Medical Practice in the Modern World. Penn State Press. ISBN 978-0-271-03213-9. Retrieved 1 August 2013.