If you live in areas of the Midwest, specifically Pennsylvania, then you are probably well aware of the prominent Amish community. This religious group most commonly avoids modern-day traditions. They are an extremely friendly community but they tend to be more private, thus there is little known about them. They also tend to have interesting traditions that will blow you away! We’ve gathered a list of facts for you to see for yourself.
Amish tend to avoid modern technology and use horses or carriages to get around rather than cars. This is mostly because of religious rules that are against technology. the Amish can accept rides from these vehicles but driving is permitted.
Older Amish men are usually seen with a long beard and no mustache. While mustaches are usually prohibited in their religion, beards are accepted strictly because men in the Bible are described with beards.
The Amish engage in a tradition known as “believer’s baptism,” which is for individuals entering adulthood. This idea stems from a Christian tradition called Anabaptism, which means “one who baptizes again.”
There are specific rules in terms of social life that are prohibited and written in the Ordnung. These regulations cover all aspects of Amish life from clothing to technology and education. It stems from the German word that translates to order/discipline.
They have no organized religious government so each church can modify the Ordnung how they please. Since they can do this, each Amish community may differ in the rules that they implement. Some communities follow stricter guidelines than others.
In Amish communities, the adolescent years are a time where these individuals begin their exploration of the world. They may even travel outside their normal areas and engage in activities that are not allowed at home.
The Amish communities do not engage in arranged marriages and participate in normal dating behavior, like the rest of society. However, people most people mistakenly assume that they do promote arranged marriages.
Amish education covers not one, but three languages! From a young age, students are taught English, German, and Pennsylvania Dutch/German. These languages are also spoken throughout the communities so if you plan on visiting any time soon, prepare to hear any one of these three.
Weddings usually take place in late November or early December because then it is after Harvest Season. Harvest season and the communions occur in October so they essentially have from the end of this period to the end of December to get married. Not a lot of time!
Amish culture has an interesting rule that seems to have improved health all around the community. They have a no-tolerance policy for drinking and smoking and research shows that their cancer rate is 40% lower than the rest of the world. Given the benefits, maybe more people should follow this example!
Amish fashion emphasizes the importance of modesty, thus their clothing options are limited. They are not allowed to wear bright colors or patterns, and instead prefer dull colors and styles influenced by the 1700s.
The original Amish families came to America in 1963 after they escaped religious oppression. Pennsylvania was known as being more open and free in terms of religious freedom, thus they chose this colony to settle.
Sleeping Together Before Marriage
Unlike other religious cultures, Amish encourage couples to sleep in the same bed before they wed. However, the condition is that they must be fully clothed and be speaking while laying in bed. This is a way to strengthen their relationship before they get married.
The Amish pay the same federal and state taxes as the rest of the country. However, one slight difference is that they are omitted from social security benefits, thus they don’t have to pay those fees.
The Largest Amish Population
Since the founding family originally came to Pennsylvania, it makes sense that people associate this state as being the largest Amish population, but it appears that this is not the case. In reality, you should move a little the west of Pennsylvania and you’ll a state that exceeds Pennsylvania by a few 100 and that is Ohio.
It is very common for Amish children to be educated in private schools. A very interesting and unique note is that they typically attend school until 8th grade and then most go on to join the working world.
Right To Vote
Amish are allowed to vote in United States Elections, but it is not typically popular for them to do so. One study even indicated that less than 15 percent of Amish voters cast their ballots. Despite this lack of popularity, there a select few that do still vote.
The Amish religion is rather peace-loving, abstaining from violence, and enhancing forgiveness as the most important virtue. They do not even participate in the military and are strongly against the death penalty.
Young Amish kids most commonly receive faceless dolls as a fun toy when they are young. The significance of having a doll with no expression is used to ensure that the children do not develop to be narcissistic.
On that note, they also do not promote anything that may make one individual appear more superior to another. Just like the faceless dolls, they also not allow musical instruments to ensure this narcissism does not occur.
A Computer For The Amish
The Amish have had a computer marketed just for them. The “Deskmate word processor” does not offer internet access, or video/music capabilities. It does offer basic word processes, spreadsheets, and accounting. This tool does not go against Amish traditions and it is perfect for Amish communities.
Back in 1920, thee were around 5,000 Amish residing in the United States. In 19845 the number grew to almost 84,000 and now reaching 300,000. This increase is mostly because God wanted larger families, and also more people would help with the farm work.
Strict Guidelines For Clothes
The biggest rule for Amish clothing is that they stay plain. Usually, they wear dull colors and are encouraged to stay away from buttons, zippers or velcro. They usually use pins or hook-and-eye closures rather.
Isolated From The Community
After their Rumspringa journey, the Amish youth have a difficult decision to make. They must decide if they want to stay with the church or abandon it. This decision is tricky because if they abandon it then they will be cut off from their family and the entire community for the rest of their lives. This is why 90% stay loyal.
The majority of Amish communities have strict rules in terms of technology but some communities are more flexible than others. The Alona Amish community permits tractors, mechanical refrigerators, bathtubs with running water and also propane gas. Some communities go as far as to allow cell phones.
One of the many Amish traditions includes no rings for engagement or at the time of the wedding. When a couple decides to get an engaged there is no jewelry allowed and this applies to the wedding ceremony as well. This is just one of many strange Amish wedding rituals.
A common trend in Amish communities is to keep engagements hidden from families and the community for several months. Usually, couples get engaged around springtime but don’t tell their families until summertime. Then, the family keeps this a secret until October when they ceremony commences.
No White Dress
Amish brides do not wear white on their wedding day and instead wear blue. The bride even makes the dress herself as well as her bridesmaid’s dresses. After this day, that same wedding dress becomes her main church dress and what is she is buried in.
Celery is a symbolic food at Amish weddings. It is the main ingredient in many soups and other dishes. It is even used as decoration instead of flowers. Usually, families start to grow their celery far in advance if they are planning a wedding. Even before the engagement is announced!
No Real Retirement Age
People in Amish communities usually begin cutting back from their normal lives between ages 50 and 70. This is also dependent on their physical state. They tend to move to a designated grandparent’s house which is located on their family’s property. Older people in good health condition usually stay working around the house and the woman in the family take care of them when their health declines.
Between the ages of 16-25, Amish get baptized into their church. Before that, the person isn’t allowed to marry yet. Only a person belonging to the same church can marry them. Not to mention, it tends to happen fast. Compared to other forms of Christianity, this is pretty interesting. Since for the most part, it’s the parents’ decision to baptize their baby. However, in the Amish community, people decide on their own to get baptized into the church or leave. They don’t baptize children since they aren’t old enough to make the decision on their own.
Even though the Amish aren’t against people taking pictures of them, they aren’t allowed to take photos themselves. They also aren’t allowed to keep them in their homes. The reasoning is the same as for the dolls and clothing – to keep them modest and avoid vanity.
When it comes to barn-raising, the Amish refer to it as a frolic. When a new barn needs to be built, they make a whole event of it. Hundreds of people attend. The men do manual labor while the women provide the meals. It’s a very popular activity.
If an Amish person decides to leave the Amish church, that means they will most likely lose all contact with their family. This is because they will be excommunicated and shunned. However, around 90% of Amish teens typically decide to stay with the church.
Even though they’re seen as exceedingly virtuous, one part of Amish society takes on a much darker tone. Due to the rising prices of farmland and decreased demand for small-scale agriculture, some Amish communities have started with a new occupation, dog farming. As a matter of fact, the Amish community owns about 20% of America’s puppy mills.
While the Amish don’t marry their cousins on purpose, there still is a high chance of inbreeding in their communities. Since their communities in Amish country as so small, they don’t have much choice when they have to marry another Amish person.
Another interesting thing about the Amish is that they don’t believe in evangelism. They have a history of isolation from the modern world and shunning non-members. So it’s no surprise that the Amish don’t try to recruit. Even the most enthusiastic fans of the Amish can’t become members of the church.
Your ethnicity, skin color, and country origin don’t matter to the Amish. Anyone who isn’t Amish is referred to as an English person by them. It mainly is due to the immigration patterns centuries ago. It makes sense when you realize that the Amish are not known for changing their customs at all.
As one would expect, there are no Instagram accounts for Amish people. It’s probably obvious since they don’t use cameras. However, did you know they don’t create paintings either? It’s rather confusing since a brush and canvas aren’t by any means modern technology, so what’s the reasoning behind it? Well, in Amish tradition, when a loved one dies, they don’t have any images to remember them by except for their memories. Having a picture or a painting of someone is considered to be a graven image, which isn’t allowed.
It’s no surprise that the Amish only marry people in their community since you need someone who will accept your faith. Convincing someone to completely change their lifestyle and habits for marriage is rather difficult, to say the least. However, there still are serious restrictions on dating in the Amish world. You can’t date anyone unless they are baptized in the Amish faith. You can’t even begin dating before you’re officially part of the community. Not to mention, dating only occurs in public spaces.
In the Amish world, each and every meaningful life event requires careful consideration and involves the entire community. People can’t simply get engaged and married without anyone having a say on the matter. When a couple starts dating, it typically doesn’t take long for them to get engaged. When the man proposes, he and his fiance need to get approval from the church. Once they are blessed by the church, they’re allowed to get married.
How would you like to have your honeymoon at your parent’s house? To someone looking in from the outside, it sounds rather off-putting. However, tradition is deeply rooted in Amish communities, and this is one of those traditions. The honeymoon will start at the bride’s parents’ house. Then, the next morning, the bride and groom will clean the parents’ house as a way to say thanks.
The Honeymoon Continues
Amish honeymoons have several different parts to them which are spread out over different places. After spending the first night at the bride’s parents’ house, the couple will pack up and go to the next house, visiting all their relatives as husband and wife. If the married couple has no house yet, they will live at the bride’s parent’s house until they can have their own.
Don’t be so quick to judge when you see someone wearing a bonnet, they might not even be Amish. Some of them are Mennonite. While they are somewhat similar, the Amish and Mennonite are not the same. In fact, they would be very offended if you confuse the two. Mennonites are a Christian group that isn’t as strict as the Amish. They live in more modern communities and don’t seclude themselves. A lot of them use technology and drive cars as well. There are even times when a Mennonite wouldn’t be distinguishable by their clothing.
Even though the Amish have many restrictions with their habits and lifestyles, a lot of times they’re surprisingly permissive and allow individuals to come to their own conclusions. However, there still is a system for those who violate their rules. It’s pretty much the Amish version of a “time-out”. If someone is found to be in violation of their ethics code, there are definitely consequences. One of those is Meidung, meaning the person is punished by being shunned from the community.
While Meidung means to be shunned by the Amish community, there’s a much more serious punishment known as Bann. If the infraction is serious enough to be permanently excommunicated, that means you’re in the Bann and treated as an outsider. It depends on your ‘crime’, but you could be shunned for any amount of time. Even though it sounds harsh, the purpose is for the person to realize what they did wrong and apologize for it.
Nowadays, thanks to modern technology, everyone wants to get DNA testing to learn more about where they come from and maybe even find some long-lost relatives. That is, everyone except the Amish, who don’t allow it. That’s the reason it’s easy to marry your third cousin in their community. They believe that if inbreeding occurs, it’s God’s will.
This is definitely one tradition you’d want to get behind. The Amish are very into sharing. The concept of hosting and participating in communal meals is very important in their community. It’s more-or-less one big potluck where everyone brings something to the large table. It happens rather often and is the perfect time to catch up with everyone.
No Church Buildings
One of the most exciting parts of going to visit religious communities all over the world is seeing all the art they created and their places of worship, right? Well, tourists aren’t going to find any churches in Amish country. They aren’t ones for showy churches and cathedrals. They believe they don’t need a church or anything fancy since you can learn the bible anywhere.
As a result of their insistence on not building churches, the Amish have a big advantage. It means they can hold services anywhere in their community without being restricted to one place. They can have church services outside or in their homes. The services are simple with no organs, altars, candles, or other things you typically find inside a church.