When it comes to the Amish, most people only have general ideas of what these communities are really like. We found 25 facts that will help you better understand what the Amish population stands for and how they live.
Courtships Are Usually Short And Quickly Followed By Marriage
Once a couple starts “dating,” they will go out only a few times before deciding if they should marry. The church will then bless the marriage, and the engagement becomes official once it’s announced in their town’s newspaper.
The Amish Have Lower Cancer Rates In Their Community Than Other Demographics
The Amish not only produce their own food— free of pesticides and processing, but they also refrain from drinking and smoking. This healthy lifestyle means lower cancer rates for their communities.
New Couples Are Encouraged To “Sleep” Together
Surprisingly, young couples are encouraged to share a bed together prior to marriage. However, both parties are fully clothed and a board is placed between them to prevent contact. The idea is for them to spend the whole night talking instead of doing other things…
Amish Beliefs Forbid Them From Using Technology
The Amish do not use technology even in the slightest sense. They go without electricity, phones, and internet due to their belief in “Gelassenheit,” which is a Christian word equating to keeping the earth as God created it.
Weddings Are A Simple Affair That Don’t Even Include Rings Or Flowers
Amish weddings are typically held at the end of fall, and are devoid of anything that they deem too extravagant. Instead of flowers, they commonly use celery, and the bride may not even wear a ring as it represents vanity.
Most Amish Communities Speak At Least Three Languages
Besides English, most Amish communities also speak German and what is known as Pennsylvania Dutch. They will use English in school and business, but speak German in church and Dutch for common daily activities.
They’re Not Allowed To Wear Bright Colors Or Jewelry
They wear the same plain clothes that tradition has dictated for many years. Amish are not allowed to wear bright colors or jewelry— not even to weddings!
Wedding Receptions Are Very Modest, As Is The Couple’s Wedding Night
Guests mainly talk and offer their blessings to the new couple following a wedding ceremony. Then, the bride and groom spend their first official night together at the bride’s parent’s home.
The Amish Are Known For Their Beards, But Never Have Mustaches
Amish men have beards, but no mustaches because of what the facial hair represents. Mustaches were once seen as a sign of wealth and military, and the communities wanted nothing to do with either.
“Meidung” Is The Act Of Shunning Someone From The Community For Breaking Rules
With so many rules, it’s not unheard of for someone to be banned from the community. Known as “Meidung,” the only way for someone to be un-banished is to beg, or to die and be buried back in the community.
Their Worship Services Are Surprisingly Modest
For such a religious community, the Amish do not see the need for extravagant churches or services. Instead, they show their faith in their work and how they live.
Children’s Educations End At The 8th Grade Level
Boys will pick a trade to go into, and girls are all pre-destined to be housewives. Because of this, they see no need for an education past the 8th grade level.
Mennonites And Amish Are Distinctly Two Different Communities
Both communities find it greatly insulting to be mistaken for one another. The Mennonites, pictured on the left, are not as strict as the Amish. Mennonites may wear brighter colors, drive cars, and even live modernly.
The Amish Came To America From Switzerland In The 18th Century
The Amish escaped persecution in Europe by immigrating to America. They found live more peaceful in their new country and decided to make it their permanent residence.
They Refuse Genealogical Testing Because Of Suspected Inbreeding
Despite living in small communities and reported inbreeding, the Amish refuse testing that would tell them who is related to who as they claim the testing is not of God’s will.
Jakob Ammann Is Credited With Starting The Amish Religion
Jakob Ammann, an anabaptist leader, began the Amish movement when he left Switzerland and other Christians decided to join him. Obviously, the word “Amish” comes from Jakob’s last name.
Women Are Considered Second Class Citizens
As their tradition and old-fashioned thinking dictates, women are treated as second class citizens. This means girls are only destined to become housewives to cook, clean, and raise children.
The Average Amish Couple Has Between Five And Seven Kids
Amish communities do not believe in or use contraceptives, which results in large families. It’s also said they aim to have as many children as possible!
The Population In Amish Communities Is Steadily Growing
Because Amish get married so young and have so many children, their communities actually see a yearly growth rate of 3.6%!
Their Modesty Extends To Their Opinions Of Others
The Amish are not arrogant people, as they see that as a sin. This being so, they do not judge or condemn people of the modern world for their lifestyle choices.
They Wait Until A Person Is Old Enough To Make The Decision To Be Baptized
Unlike some Christian branches, the Amish believe in waiting until a person is old enough, typically around age 16-24, before accepting the religion.
There Are More Amish People Than You Would Guess To Be Living In America
There are reportedly over 300,00 Amish people living in America! It would be hard for anyone not familiar with Amish communities to know just how many people actually reside in these communities.
The Amish Are Pacifists Who Will Never Serve In The Military
Not only are the Amish soft-spoken, but they are also against violence in any form. Because of this, no men are allowed to join the military. If they do join, they are banned from the community.
Building Barns Is A Form Of Fun And Socialization In Communities
Building barns is one way the men in Amish communities pass the time and socialize in large groups.
Contrary To Popular Belief, The Amish Don’t Mind Having Their Photos Taken By Others
While the Amish aren’t opposed to allowing people to take their pictures, they do not take photographs themselves or keep them in their homes.
Origin of “Amish”
The term “Amish” is derived from the name of Jakob Ammann, a Swiss Anabaptist in the Mennonite church who strongly advocated for a literal interpretation of the Bible. His ideas caused a schism in the church and the followers who sided with him were thus known as Amish.
What’s an Anabaptist?
Anabaptism is sometimes considered to be a sect of Protestantism known for its opposition and refusal to baptize an infant. Anabaptists believe baptism should only be done once one is able to willingly confess their faith.
Baptism and marriage
Baptism in the Amish faith happens most often between 18-22 years old. Until this happens, the person is not permitted to marry and when they do marry, it must be to another church member.
Strict pacifists, the Amish reject any form of violence. To this aim, Amish members do not participate in the military.
The faceless dolls
Take a look at an Amish doll (if you can find one) and you’ll see it has no face. The faceless dolls are believed to deter against pride and vanity.
When a child in an Amish family turns 16, they enter a limited time period called Rumspringa. During this time, the youth is allowed to go out and do things normally forbidden by the Amish community. Though more symbolic for some as they go to a movie theater or for a driving lesson, some have been known to consume drugs and alcohol.
The Amish, in numbers
The Amish first immigrated to North America in the early 1700’s, primarily settling down in Pennsylvania. Today, over 300,000 Amish people live in over 28 U.S. states and Canada.
Similar to the reasons for having faceless dolls, the Amish do not play any musical instruments, claiming they are a method of self-expression which would encourage pride and feelings of superiority.
An Amish woman’s role
An Amish woman is primarily a homemaker, taking on a more traditional gender role including cooking, home management, and helping neighbors. In public, an Amish woman will generally follow her husband’s lead.
The Amish can exclude members in two different ways. The first, shunning, involves members of the community limiting contact with the transgressor to shame them back into the church and show them the errors of their ways.
The more serious charge – excommunication – is a total shutdown of contact with the person and a banishment from the community. Even parents must cut contact if their child has been excommunicated lest they are excommunicated themselves.
It’s generally a well-known Amish fact that members cannot use motorized vehicles such as cars. The Amish horse and buggy may even be the most commonly seen picture of Amish life. Since community members are mutually dependent on each other for survival, the speed and efficiency of a car is seen to undermine the need for a neighbor to ask another for help.
Since before the Amish’s founding as a splinter group from the Mennonites, Anabaptists were persecuted and thus held church services in their homes. A different member usually hosts the community with the host changing weekly.
Beyond the horse and buggy, Amish communities are widely known for the festive time known as a barn raising. Both an economic and social event, barn raisings are where the community comes together to build a barn for one of its members. The act typifies selflessness and neighbors helping neighbors, bedrocks of Amish culture.
The famous beard
Looking at an Amish man, you can tell if he’s married or not – just look at his beard. An Amish man begins growing his beard (though not his mustache – they’re not allowed) immediately after his wedding.
A woman’s church dress
Similar to a man’s beard, an Amish woman uses her wedding outfit – which she must sew herself and which is sometimes required to be blue – for Sunday church services after she is married.
Though the Amish place the Word of God above governmental rule, they support the separation of church and state.
Amish children learn in one-room parochial schoolhouses taught by Amish teachers. After that point, the child goes to vocational training with their family and members of the community where they learn skills such as farming and carpentry.
Reasons for excommunication
The Amish can excommunicate someone for owning a computer, drinking alcohol, or even refusing to kneel during church.