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 and 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.
Most of the time the Fancy Dutch far outnumbered the Plain groups among the Pennsylvania Dutch. But since the two World Wars and the following 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, the Fancy Dutch having been mostly assimilated into the larger culture of the United States. While the Plain Dutch regions are centered on Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and Holmes County, Ohio, the Fancy Dutch live in the countryside around 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.