Some Things About The Amish That May Come As A Surprise
Are you curious about the Amish beyond their iconic clothing and peaceful way of life? You might be surprised to learn some lesser-known facts about these fascinating people.
From their unique customs and beliefs to the secrets of their inner world, there’s so much to discover about the Amish. So read on to learn more and deepen your understanding of these cloistered folk.
They are a stickler for rules
The Amish are a unique community with a strict set of guidelines outlined in their book, the Ordnung. This book covers everything from daily living to the consequences of breaking rules.
The Ordnung helps keep the Amish community on track and maintains their traditional way of life. While it may seem strict to outsiders, the clear format of the Ordnung prevents confusion and allows the Amish to live according to their beliefs.
Facial hair is a must for married men
For the Amish, facial hair is a sign of a change in one’s marital status. As the Ordnung spells out, young males are not expected to have beards. Only when a man gets married is he required to grow one.
Mustaches, however, are not allowed for anyone. This shows the importance of marriage in Amish culture, as well as the value they place on maintaining a certain appearance.
They speak their own language
The Amish are known for their unique way of life, which includes their use of language. English is their main means of communication with the outside world, but many also speak Pennsylvania Dutch, also known as Low German, in the comfort of their own homes.
This language is specific to the Amish and is sometimes considered outdated by outsiders, but it remains an important part of Amish culture. It is a key part of their identity and helps to preserve their distinct way of life.
The Amish reject modern fashion trends
The Amish are known for their simple way of life, and their clothing is no exception. Unlike most of society, where fashion is constantly evolving, the Amish have stuck to the same styles for centuries.
For the Amish, their clothing is about humility and valuing what’s on the inside over what’s on the outside. Women wear basic bonnets and dresses, while men stick to simple, muted colors. It may seem old-fashioned, but for the Amish, it’s all about simplicity.
Amish beliefs on technology vary by family
While it is true that many Amish people live without modern technology, this is not the case for all families. In fact, some Amish people believe that certain technologies can be beneficial and incorporate them into their daily lives.
For instance, they may use refrigerators to keep food fresh, generators to power electronic devices, and propane-powered forklifts for farming tasks. This shows that the Amish approach to technology is not uniform and that each family makes decisions about what is best for them.
The Amish wait to baptize their children
In the Christian faith, baptisms are common for babies and young kids. But for the Amish, things are a bit different. They believe that children don’t have the knowledge or awareness to choose their faith, so they wait until their kids are grown to allow them to decide.
The Amish follow a sub-sect of Christianity called Anabaptism. When teenagers reach a certain age, they can participate in the Rumspringa tradition and be baptized later on if they choose.
Rumspringa allows Amish teens to experience the world
The Rumspringa is a tradition among Amish teens where they are allowed to explore the world and make their own decisions about their future. Amish parents allow their kids to choose whether they want to live according to Amish customs or try something else.
Many Amish teens opt to return to their community and embrace their old traditions, but others might take the opportunity to experience new things. Ultimately, the choice is up to the individual.
Amish teens can opt to stay closer to home during Rumspringa
Amish teens often have the option to travel far from their community during Rumspringa, but some prefer to stay close to home. In these cases, Amish communities often create youth groups for these teens to socialize with their peers.
Despite what outsiders may believe, these groups do not engage in debauchery. Instead, they offer wholesome recreational activities like sports and social events. These groups also provide a chance for Amish teens to find a spouse.
Are There Amish Drug Dealers?
The Amish community has long been known as a moral and peace-loving society. They are also largely excluded from mainstream media. Thus, very little bad news has ever emerged about them. Most assume that they are generally law-abiding people due to the Ordnung they follow. However, this is not always true.
During the 1990s, some Amish individuals were caught purchasing and dealing illicit substances worth $100,000. A lot of people thought the individuals caught were dealing with people outside their community. However, many were shocked that they were actually selling to other Amish folks.
No Gender Reveals
The Amish people, like many others, value their children. They believe that children are God’s gifts. So, young ones are highly treasured and very well looked after by the community. The Amish believe that kids are the only treasures they can take to heaven.
However, the Amish do not like to talk about pregnancy. They also dislike talking about the baby creation process due to their inherent discreteness and modesty. Celebrating pregnancy milestones is contrary to Amish beliefs. Gender reveal parties would be an abomination.
What Happens During Rumspringa Stays In Rumspringa
The highly celebrated Rumspringa is considered a time for Amish teens to reflect on their place in Amish society by going out and experiencing the world on their own terms. Some go wild and take everything the world has to offer. Though some of these teens do not come back, those who do are welcomed back as if nothing happened.
Whatever happened during Rumspringa is easily forgiven and forgotten by the Amish people once the teen returns to their community. Returning teens can go back to their families and live the same lifestyle, totally forgiven for whatever deeds they did during Rumspringa, even if they did not adhere to the rules of Ordnung.
Courtship The Amish Way
Modern society could learn a thing or two from the Amish, especially when it comes to courtship rituals. In the Amish community, very few men are single. Why? They have courtship rules everyone adheres to in order to keep their lineages strong. If you are an Amish male, you are expected to take the lead in the courtship process.
Courtship is not quick. The ritual starts from the late teens up to their early 20s. Males will show their intent to an Amish lady by picking her and her family up in his horse and cart and taking them to church. After this, the lovebirds will have to write to each other for an entire year before the man is allowed to ask for the woman’s hand in marriage.
No Nonsense Weddings
The Amish are known as people who lead simple, non-extravagant lives. They only focus on the important things, and their simple values are reflected in their wedding ceremonies. Compared to people in modern society who turn weddings into lavish extravaganzas, the Amish prefer to keep the event lowkey.
Their focus is not on material things but on the sanctity of the occasion. Their dress style keeps up with their everyday clothes. They casually dress up, and no fancy rings are involved. It is generally an affair that is attended by not so many people – only their tight-knit community.
Education Stops At The 8th Grade
Though a lot of people value tertiary degrees, the Amish value practicality more than diplomas. Since their community is essentially concerned with living sustainably, they are more concerned with nurturing their crops and caring for their homes.
The Amish, therefore, do not value education and believe that studying is not beneficial for their lifestyle. They allow their kids to go to school but only up to the eighth grade. After this, boys are essentially taught to work using their hands. Meanwhile, girls are expected to care for their homes.
Amish Women Make Their Own Wedding Dresses
A wedding for Amish women is one of the biggest events in their lives. To celebrate, the women make their own wedding dresses. This will be the best and finest dress an Amish woman will ever wear. The beauty of these dresses is so valued that women often wear the same dress for Sunday church.
Usually, these wedding dresses are colored blue. Women can select the fabric and shade they want for the dress. They also do not place the dress in a box for keeping. Instead, they wear the dress on special occasions.
Being Good Is A lifestyle
The Amish follow the life rules dictated by their Ordnung. While Christians start their good life after baptism, the Amish start their lifestyle of doing good the minute they are born. The entire community strives to do good every minute of every day.
The Amish believe that baptism is essential, but it is not what dictates how they should lead their lives. Being good is a life goal that one needs to strive for as long as one is living. Good deeds should be done as much as one possibly can.
The Youngest Will Inherit Everything
While countries in different parts of the world practice the passing down of money or any type of inheritance to the eldest son, the Amish do things differently within their community. It is not the eldest male child who will inherit the father’s fortune.
According to the Amish, the eldest male son is required to learn everything the father has taught. These skills are the ones that will guide the eldest to live a good life and enable him to support his family. The youngest son is expected to struggle more since he has had the least access to the father’s wisdom. This is why the youngest generally receives the inheritance.
The Amish Are Healthy And Disease-Free
Many people attribute the world’s ills to the fast-paced lifestyle everyone is living and the poor food choices people make. Some even connect the increased cancer rates to the modern world’s preference for unhealthy living. Remarkably, the Amish have very low rates of cancer.
Many people suspect that the low cancer rate the Amish experience is due to their healthy lifestyle. They nurture their crops, they do not consume fast food, they farm their animals, and they eat organic meat. They also do not allow themselves to be exposed to technology. Plus, they spend a large part of every day outside.
Getting In Bed Together Before Marriage Is Okay
The Amish actually allow potential mates to get in bed together before marriage. The only catch is, they are not supposed to touch each other in any way while sharing the bed. This tradition has been held for decades, and the process is called bundling.
An unmarried man and woman can spend an entire night in a room together. However, a divider must separate the two. They also need to be fully clothed during the night. They are also not expected to sleep. Instead, they should talk from evening until dawn.
The Amish Practice Accountability
Amish people do their best to be citizens who follow the law, but they are not perfect beings. They make mistakes the same way other people do. What the Amish do differently is that they practice the Meidung order when it comes to those who make mistakes in their community.
Anyone who breaks the community’s rule is given two choices: they can own up to their mistake and say sorry to the people they wronged. If they don’t, they must face the consequences. If they choose the latter, the guilty party will be rejected by the community and will be required to leave.
Amish Vs. Amish
Not everything is a bed of roses in this world, and that statement holds for the Amish way of life. Some Amish people break the law, intentionally or unintentionally, and need to be dealt with by authorities. Such an incident occurred in 2011, and some Amish men were sent to prison.
The group was apparently in a war with another Amish community. The brawl stemmed from one group believing that the other group was not following the traditional values. One group decided to take matters into their own hands. They broke into the houses of their enemies and shaved off the men’s beards.
The Amish Are Exempt From Military Conscription
The Amish have a long-held belief that violence is not the answer to any problem. Due to this belief, there has never been an instance where an Amish person ever joined the military. The United States government acknowledged the Amish stance and exempted them from ever being drafted.
The exemption ensures no Amish person will ever serve on the frontlines of any war. They grew up believing that violence should never be used against anyone, and these gentle people have always lived a life of peace away from any tension or war.
Faceless Amish Dolls
Like women in other cultures, Amish females clean their homes and cook for their families. They also make dolls. What makes Amish dolls stand out from the ones we’re used to is that they have no faces. The dolls are dressed like the Amish but remain faceless. Why is that?
Some believe this is a design error. However, the Amish confirm that the faceless dolls are intentional. They believe that all humans are made equal in God’s eyes. The faceless figures represent how everyone is seen the same way by the Supreme Being.
Their Numbers Are Growing
Contrary to popular belief, the Amish community is not small, isolated, or secluded. Their population can be traced back to the 1600s. Though they were originally present in Switzerland, they have traveled across the globe, with most of them currently residing in the United States.
Despite being a traditional and conservative community, their population is continually growing. Currently, there are an estimated 400,000 Amish people residing in America, and their numbers are increasing by the year.
Health Issues Among The Amish
Though the Amish are healthy and have a relatively low risk of cancer compared to most of the world’s population, they are still not immune to health issues. Despite their good lifestyle and natural way of living, their population experiences health risks specific to their group.
The current population of the Amish can be traced to the original 100 people that belonged to their community. Essentially, their members have merged. The result is the Founder Effect, which leads to genetic disorders. However, since the Amish do not regularly visit doctors, their problems are mostly undiagnosed.
No Musical Instruments For The Amish
Though the Amish go to church every Sunday, where they sing hymns of praise to the Lord, there is a limit to their musical expression. Their culture allows singing but not the playing of any musical instruments.
Even practicing how to play a musical instrument is a no-no. Essentially, musical instruments are banned in the community. The Amish believe that modesty and humility are values that need to be practiced. Playing a musical instrument is considered improper as it demands too much self-expression and creativity – features that are not normal within such a conservative environment.
Relationship Status Is A Secret
Compared to most people today who place their relationship status on their Facebook pages for all the world to see, the Amish prefer to keep the status of their relationships a secret. None of them place their engagement pictures online. Instead, they celebrate their relationships quietly.
Newly engaged Amish couples are not allowed to share their relationship status with anyone except their immediate parents and family. They need to wait for four weeks before announcing their relationship in a “publishing” ceremony held at a church.
The Amish Honeymoon
The Amish are known for their simplicity and modesty. Their wedding celebrations are as modest as their honeymoons. While conventional couples would travel to a far-off place for their honeymoon, Amish couples do it a little bit differently.
Newlywed Amish couples visit different parts of their communities to meet with families and friends. The visit allows the extended celebration of their nuptials and gives them a chance to receive gifts. It is a uniquely Amish honeymoon that highlights the bond of their tightly-knit group.
Medical Access For The Amish
Amish people adhere to the rules in their community as well as the guidelines set by their Ordnung. However, modern times have challenged a few of their beliefs. Specifically, some Amish communities are divided about accessing medical care.
Some Amish people welcome modern medicine into their lives, while others prefer to have nothing to do with it. Those who are open to accessing medical care need to fork up their own money for treatments as they do not have insurance.
Can Amish People Have Their Pictures Taken?
Numerous people believe that the Amish dislike having their pictures taken. Though this is true for some, not everyone in the Amish community shares this perspective. Some allow their images to be taken by outsiders as long as they ask politely.
Some completely welcome the idea of sharing their Amish way of living with the rest of the world. Some Amish individuals do not mind being the center of attention in photos. All you need to do is ask, and they may be more than willing to accommodate your request.
Buggy-Riding Is The Way To Go
Most people in the modern world are used to driving cars, hailing taxis, or taking the subway to get around town. The Amish, by contrast, have always relied on their buggies. Though they do acknowledge the benefit of modern transportation, they still prefer their old-fashioned way of doing things.
Horses and carts remain their preferred mode of transportation. Very rarely do Amish people use modern vehicles to get around. If you do pull over to give them a ride when they’re in need, they generally will not turn down your generous offer.
Men Are The Heads Of The Households
Though women are gaining equal status in mainstream society, the Amish still consider men as the head of their households. They do not adhere to the current mindset of letting women have the same footing as men.
Amish wives do as they’re told, while the men are expected to rule the home. They believe in what the Bible says that women need to allow themselves to be ruled by their husbands. This old-fashioned belief seems to work within this humble, non-violent community.
Hygiene And Environmental Issues
The Amish have built a very sustainable lifestyle. However, scientists have observed that some of the waste produced by their efforts to grow their own crops and farm their own animals are causing environmental issues. For one, it seems their waste products end up in local rivers and streams.
Complaints about the Amish impact on the natural world have escalated to the point that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has even stepped in. The agency has reportedly asked the Amish to change some of the ways they do things, but such requests have been mostly ignored.
Saying goodbye to this life is difficult for most people. Many mainstream folks put a lot of thought into the clothes they want to be buried in. Families generally like their loved ones to be dressed elegantly at funerals. However, Amish women do it differently.
Women prefer to wear their wedding dress not only on Sundays at church but also when their time comes to be buried. An apron is placed on the wedding dress when they are buried in it. The practice honors their belief in modesty and humility, even in death.
Do The Amish Love Animals?
Amish people are known to be kind to their fellow humans. However, they do not seem to extend the same kindness to animals. Reportedly, they do not treat their animals with the love and respect most mainstream people think is reasonable.
Reportedly, the Amish do not accord animals, such as horses, the same respect as their fellow human beings. Over the years, there have been numerous reports of Amish individuals mistreating their horses. Some also underfeed cows in a way many people would see as unacceptable.
Hair Is Sacred To The Amish
Amish women are seldom seen with their hair down. However, their culture disallows them to cut their hair. In their community, hair is considered a very sacred thing. Women are prohibited from trimming or cutting their hair from the time they are born.
Women keep their hair in a bun to keep it away from their faces. Meanwhile, men can trim their hair, but only to prevent it from going in their faces when they are working. Men are allowed to cut their hair daily if needed.
Amish Find Modern Life Odd
Just as most people find the Amish way of life odd, so too do the Amish think the modern world is bizarre. Most Amish live very sheltered lives within their communities. Interacting with people outside their world is something they find uncomfortable.
Most Amish prefer to live in their community and socialize with their people. They also remain with their families and friends. When the youth engage in Rumspringa, they leave the community and at times struggle to blend with society and make new friends.
Can Anyone Join The Amish?
Usually, religions are actively pursuing other people to join their congregations. Some are even sent out into the world to spread the word and invite others to be converted to their belief system and way of life. However, it is different if you want to join the Amish.
Some people want to join the Amish faith. Their numbers are few, and being accepted into the community is even rarer. To have a chance, you must live with an Amish family for a few months to know and accept their way of life.
Amish People Are Trilingual
The Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch. They also learn English when they enter school. However, they are also fluent in another language. Despite being required to finish only the 8th grade, they are well-recognized for their trilingual skills.
The state of Indiana is home to numerous Amish communities. Such a community can speak Swiss-Amish along with Pennsylvania Dutch and English. Most Amish people can speak each of the three languages while conversing with each other.
Amish Women Like To Stay Home
Though some people disagree with how the Amish run their lives, especially with how women allow their lives to be led by their husbands, Amish females love to stay at home and care for their families. The women feel they are not at all oppressed.
According to Amish women, they enjoy cooking and looking after their kids. They consider being a homemaker as the most important thing a person could do. Amish men feel that it is an honor for women to care for the household, and they have profound respect for their wives.
Members May Be Excommunicated
Amish people have little to no tolerance for the disrespect of their tenets. When a person becomes an official member of the Amish following, they need to fully adhere to the rules of the Ordnung, as well as the religion’s overt doctrine. If they fail to follow through, they risk being kicked out altogether.
When an Amish person is excommunicated, members begin a practice known as “meidung” which involves cutting off all communication with the banished member. The congregation may no longer accept gifts, eat with, or sleep with the shunned individual. However, a shunned Amish person is always welcomed back into the fold should they genuinely repent for their actions.
Non-Violence Is An Important Tenet
The Amish believe in non-violence as a practice. As mentioned before, this not only exempts them from being a part of the military, but it is also a core part of being an Amish person.
The Amish interpretation of Jesus’s principles also prevents them from being a part of the court system in any capacity. The way they see it, litigation of any kind is viewed as an act of aggression.
They Have An Important Routine When Opening A Barn
Traditionally, when the Amish were to open a new barn, hundreds of people would gather for the project. Men would provide the labor while women kept everyone well-fed.
This type of gathering is a pillar of the Amish way of life. It speaks to their community building and unity in their beliefs and each other.
Amish Business Ventures Center On Puppy Mills
While the Amish may have a wholesome image, there are some dark things under the hood. With a decreasing need for small-scale agriculture, the Amish have taken to puppy mills as a means to make money.
To do this, they keep large amounts of dogs in a small space for the specific purpose of breeding them and selling off their offspring. This has led to the anger of many animal rights activists.
Cutting An Amish Person’s Hair Is A Crime
That’s right if you forcibly remove facial hair from an Amish person, this is considered a hate crime. The reason is on religious grounds.
Johnny Mullet was caught on camera cutting one of his follower’s beards, along with a handful more men.
Adolescents May Try And Further Their Education
When the youth are offered the opportunity to take their Rumspringa (or hiatus away from the Amish traditions and out in the modern world) some decide to further their education.
Because their education stops in the 8th grade, some Amish youth decide to pursue their secular education by getting their GEDs or even going to college.
“Going English” is what the Amish call it when girls take off their bonnets, and the boys take off their traditional garb.
This would be down to their Rumspringa. When the coming-of-age child partakes in modern clothes and modern society, the Amish trace it back to their European roots.
They Tend To Lead Long Lives
The typical age that an Amish person dies is betweenaround 71-years-old. This is pretty good for an isolated group of people.
Over the last hundred years, the life expectancy of an Amish person has remained fairly steadily the same. This is likely due to lack of access to healthcare and scientific advantages.
Animals Are Seen As More Useful Rather Than Pets
While many of us enjoy a pet cat or dog, you would be hard-pressed to find the same kind of loving affection if you were living on an Amish farm.
Pets are seen as more for farm-use than adoring sidekicks. Cats eat rodents, horses pull buggies, dogs hunt, etc.
Amish Don’t Believe That Animals Have Souls
Because the Amish do not think that animals have souls the same way they believe that they do, they feel it is okay to use them as they see fit.
This is probably a factor in why they are able to use puppy-mills to make money and do not see animals as pets to be loved, rather they are there for a utilitarian purpose.
Usage Of Buttons Or Zippers Is Forbidden
The Amish forbid the usage of buttons or zippers in their community. They view these clothing styles to be too showy and not humble enough for their way of life.
Velcro and zippers are also banned within the Amish community. Capes are used for religious services but are not worn regularly.
The Amish Do Not Keep Up With Dental Hygiene
This may or may not come as a surprise, but the Amish are not involved in any dental plans within the American healthcare system.
Furthermore, they would not visit a dentist because it goes against their religious practices, so even though they qualify for Medicaid, they abstain.
They Like A Fast Ride
Who said a horse-and-buggy can’t be a sweet ride? From tricked-out turn signals to fancy headlights, end even full-blown stereo systems the Amish like to spice up their ride just like anyone else.
In 2019 in North Bloomfield, Ohio, shortly before 1 AM police pulled over a horse and buggy after spotting two men drinking out of the back and a 12-pack of alcohol on the roof. Once pulled over while searching the buggy police noticed there was a full-blown stereo system in the back.
Amish Love Horseshoes
There is a variety of opinions in Amish society on sports. A wide range of sports is enjoyed in Amish communities, by children, youth, and in some cases adults.
The Amish take sports and games very seriously. This is evident when it comes to any gathering where the chance to play something like horseshoes comes up. Things can go from cool, calm, and collected to competitive real quick.
Volleyball Is A Favorite As Well
As mentioned above, if deemed an acceptable sport to participate in, the Amish love keeping active with sports games. Volleyball is one of the favorite sports played by the Amish.
Driving through an Amish community it is very common to see nets strung up on lawns, especially on the weekends. One reason for volleyball’s popularity is its place in Amish youth social life.
The Amish Do Not Believe In Birth Control
The Amish community takes the phrase “go forth and multiply” to heart. Children are seen as a blessing and large families are valued by the Amish. Traditionally, the Amish reject all forms of birth control. In practice, however, some may employ natural means such as the rhythm method, and even artificial means in some cases.
As of late, some Amish communities have softened their stance toward the use of birth control. The idea is that more unexpected pregnancies can be harmful to the mother’s mental health or pre-existing conditions.
Amish Is Not A Race
Many people have the misconception that the Amish are their own race, but in reality, they fall under an ethnic group. The Amish are united by a common Swiss/ German ancestry, language, and culture, and they marry within the Amish community.
The Amish themselves generally use the term only to refer to accepted members of their church community, and not as an ethnic designation.
Amish Markets Are A Hit
Amish markets are shopper favorites, providing a wide array of goods including foods, crafts, and canned as well as baked goods. Some even offer hand-crafted furniture and outdoor items.
Amish live in 30 states across the United States and sell their products in many more. Their items are more than not under what someone would typically spend at a chain store, and the quality is excellent.