Shunning Modern Technology
Most people know that the Amish shun any type of modern technology and comforts that come with living a modern life. This type of simple lifestyle comes from a philosophical belief known as the Gelassenheit, which means “let it be.” According to the Amish religion, the earth should remain as close to God’s original creation, which is why they reject all modern conveniences.
Religious Beliefs Are Optional
The Amish are part of a Christian sub-sect known as the Anabaptist, which revolves around the “believer’s baptism.” Between the ages of 16-24, a person will independently state their faith and become a full member of the church. However, growing up as an Amish teenager isn’t quite as strict as you may think.
Amish Teenagers Get A Free Pass
As we all know, being a teenager is filled with hormones, angst, and drama. For Amish teens, it’s no different, so they tend to get somewhat of a free pass in the community. They aren’t immediately shunned or punished for getting into trouble or experimenting, with the hopes they will remain in the Amish community as adults.
No Shaving for Men & Women
While it is known that the Amish men don’t shave and grow out their beards when they are married, you might be surprised that the women don’t shave either. The men only shave their mustaches because in the 1800’s they were considered to be a sign of wealth.
The Amish Utilize Three Languages
You might find it interesting to know that the Amish utilize three different languages in their daily lives: English, German and Pennsylvania Dutch. Out of respect, schools and businesses use English, while the religious services are all conducted in German. Daily conversation; however, is where Pennsylvania Dutch is used.
Amish vs. Mennonite: The Differences
Many people often think that the Amish and Mennonite are similar, but there are actually distinct differences between to the two cultures. While they both come from the Anabaptist sect and look similar in appearance, their ideology is quite different. Mennonites live within the modern world and utilize technology like cars. One interesting fact is that many Amish who leave the community end up converting to Mennonite.
The Truth Behind Rumspringa
When you’re a teenager growing up Amish, there comes a point in your life where you must actively choose to join the Amish faith. Between the ages of 14 and 18, the teens will spend time outside of the Amish community for their “Rumspringa.” This custom allows Amish teens to experience whatever they want, whether it be sex, drugs, alcohol or just enjoying modern conveniences.
Weeks to Years Away
How long the teenagers spend outside of the Amish community depends on them. Some spend as little as a week before committing to their Amish faith through their baptism. Others may spend years away, while many choose to never return.
Most Teens Return to the Community
According to the Amish, a majority of the young adults do end up returning to the community, even those who were the most rebellious. Many meet someone and fall in love. There have been false conceptions that Amish perform arranged marriages, but this isn’t true. Amish dating usually begins meeting in public in groups before moving to more private dates.
The Strange Courting Ritual
A key part of Amish courtship revolves around a night spent in bed together (it’s not what you think). Both male and female remain fully clothed and lie in bed together with a board between them. When they decide to get married, they must have the engagement blessed by the church and then announced to the town.
An Amish Wedding Celebration
Most Amish weddings are held during the month of November. Why? Well, this is when the community isn’t as busy since it is the end of the harvest season. The wedding ceremony can last up to four hours and no rings or kisses are publicly exchanged. The entire community is invited to the wedding, which can sometimes be up to 400 guests.
Large Community Potluck Dinners Happen Often
Food is a huge part of the Amish community. Meals are an important part of their social lives, which usually results in large community potlucks that happen on a regular basis. It’s the perfect time for people to get together and socialize.
The Harsh Punishment of Shunning
One practice of the Amish community that is considered the cruelest by outsiders is being shunned. This is a form of social rejection and punishment that’s used for disobeying the religious rules of the community. The ultimate goal of being shunned is for the individual to see the error of their ways and recommit to the community. Although, some offenses result in permanent shunning.
Less Susceptible to Disease
Despite their love for rich food, the Amish community has lower rates of cancer and disease. Children rarely have asthma or allergies as well. Researchers believe this is due to all of the organic produce that’s part of the Amish diet. They also abstain from alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs, which keeps their health in peak condition.
A Simple & Modest Life
The Amish take pride in living a very simple life. They don’t have lavish church services and don’t have any type of religious symbols. They just value living life in a plain way, placing their value on the people in the community. Honestly, they just want to be left alone to live their best life.
Limited Schooling for Children & Teens
The Amish community doesn’t place too much value on traditional schooling. Amish children attend school up to the eighth grade in one-room schoolhouses. This allows for the Amish teens to learn trades and skills that will make them a valuable member of their communities. While some do continue their schooling, it doesn’t happen often.
Puppy Mills Run Rampant
Unfortunately, the Amish community does have a dark side. Over 20% of the puppy mills in the United States are owned and operated by the Amish. They treat young dogs like they would livestock and have found it an easy way to make an income. In fact, Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County is considered to be the puppy mill capital of the United States.
Contribute Heavily to Local Pollution
You would think since the Amish don’t own cars and shun electricity that their carbon footprint would be quite small, but in reality, they contribute heavily to polluting the environment. This is due to the Amish farmers using extensive amounts of fertilizer on their farms. This ends up running off into the nearby water sources.
Also, gross fact: the Amish let their cattle bathe in local streams and defecate in the water. Fun, right?
Known for Animal Abuse
Sadly, the Amish people look at their livestock and animals as nothing more than equipment. You’ll often notice that the horses pulling the buggies are malnourished and they’re brutally slaughtered when they get too old to work. Cows and dogs are also mistreated, often killed if they require any type of medical treatment. Animals are NOT pets to the Amish, but tools.
Graves Are Dug by Hand
When a member of the community dies, the funeral is held inside the home of a family member. The grave is dug by hand, with the body remaining in a family member’s home for three days before burial. Funerals are not considered to be a celebration since the Amish believe the spirit leaves the body at the moment of death.
They Can Get B.U.I’s
You may be surprised, but Amish can get DUI’s from time to time for operating their horse and buggy under the influence. Better known as a B.U. I (Buggying Under the Influence), some Amish men have tried to flee the police on their buggies and end up crashing. Don’t drink and buggy!
Amish Haircut Attacks
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the Amish do not cut their hair, but a man named Samuel Mullet convinced a group of Amish to go on a cutting spree! The group cut the facial hair and head hair of several innocent victims. Now Samuel is serving 11 years in prison for the attacks.
Crimes Are Covered Up
Some of the younger ex-Amish members who chose to permanently leave the community have opened up about abuses within the Amish. These tales range from sexual assault to even murder which is covered up by the community. It seems the Amish know how to stay out of the sights of the American legal system.
“They feel that the use of force—even legal force, even filing a lawsuit—is outside the spirit of Christ, and outside the spirit of Christian faith.”
The Amish Love Mexican Food
You may find this odd, but the Amish love Mexican food. They developed a love for the spicy when the Amish fled to Mexico over 100 years ago to escape a military draft. During this time, they incorporated a wide variety of Mexican foods into their cuisine. You’ll notice Amish love to sell homemade salsa.
Their Founder is Jakob Ammann
The founding father of the Amish way of life was Jakob Ammann. He was an Anabaptist member of the Mennonite church who began to stir up controversy when he began to push for a literal interpretation of the bible. He soon amassed a group of followers that would split off into their own community, eventually becoming the Amish we know today.
Dolls Have No Faces
One thing you’ll notice about Amish dolls and toys is that they have no faces. This is due to the Amish belief of shunning pride and vanity. They believe everyone is equal under the eyes of God. Dolls without an identity are a sign of equality. Interesting, right?
Music and Instruments are Banned
The only music allowed in the Amish community is from the Amish songbook called the Ausbund. There are no musical notes in the book because instruments are considered a form of self-expression and are banned. Therefore, the tunes are passed down from generation to generation.
Obesity is Rare in the Amish Communities
You would think with all the rich dairy the Amish consume, obesity would be a problem, but there are actually fewer cases of being overweight among the Amish in general. This is mainly due to the fact they eat organic and work hard every day without the use of modern technology. However, the Amish are known for genetic disorders due to inbreeding.
No Photographs Allowed
The Amish do not allow themselves to be photographed nor do they take photos themselves. Photographs are a direct violation of the Amish faith and are believed to emphasize individuality, something the Amish are against. They want to be remembered for what they do in life, not their physical appearances.
Outsiders Can Convert
You may be surprised to learn that outsiders can join the Amish if they desire to do so. There are many people who long for a simpler way of life and have no issues shedding their modern conveniences to pursue a different existence. Those wishing to convert must live within the Amish community for a year and spend time learning their ways.