Fascinating Facts About The Amish That Few People Know
How well do you know the Amish beyond the traditional clothes they wear, their lifestyle, and their peaceful way of life? As it turns out, there are a lot more details that few of us know about these fascinating people. Indeed, a few of the facts included in this article are quite shocking.
Read on to discover the incredible inner world that usually only Amish people get to see. You will learn a thing or two along the way and develop a deeper understanding of these cloistered folk. The knowledge you will gain could even improve the way you’re leading your life right now. If not, this article will at least make you smile.
1. Rules are cool
The Amish are among the minority of people in this world who think rules are cool. They even have a name for all the rules they are to follow – the Ordnung. It is a book that specifies guidelines and regulations on how they are supposed to lead their lives.
It is what keeps them all in line as the Ordnung is the proper Amish way of living. Punishments and the consequences of not following the rules set out by their forebears are all written out in an easy-to-understand fashion to prevent any confusion.
2. Facial hair growth literally means personal growth
For the Amish, facial hair is a sign of a change in one’s marital status. Young males are not expected to have beards. The Ordnung spells this out as one of the rules of their culture. A beard on an older person can only mean one thing.
When an Amish man gets married, he vows on the day of his wedding to not only stay devoted to his wife but to maintain a beard all his life. This is the reason why young Amish men do not have beards, but men who get married are required to grow one. Mustaches are not allowed for anyone.
3. They have their own language
English is the main means of communication for the Amish. It is what they speak to converse with people outside of their own community. The Amish are taught English from a very young age. However, they also have their own language, and most speak it in the comfort of their own homes.
A lot of Amish communities located in North America speak a language known as Pennsylvania Dutch. Also known as Low German, this is a way of communicating that is specific to the Amish. Some consider it an outdated language, but it is very much alive on Amish tongues.
4. The Amish have a dress code
The Amish not only follow a guidebook on how to live, but they also very much adhere to the tenets of their culture on how to dress. Compared to most of society wherein people go through constant evolutions of fashion, the Amish have worn the kind of clothes their ancestors have worn from centuries before.
Though it may seem old-fashioned, this rule is mostly about adhering to a simple and straightforward way of life that values less of what appears outside. What exists on the inside is what the Amish value. Their style is mostly showcasing their humility. For females, a basic muted bonnet and a dress are more than enough.
5. The Amish accept some technology
It is commonly believed that the Amish have shunned all things technologically advanced. However, this is far from the truth. Though many families do prefer to live with no technology whatsoever, the same is not true for all Amish families. Some actually believe in the benefits of technology.
Some still stick to candlelight and the traditional ways of cooking. However, there are Amish people who have opted to use refrigerators to keep their food fresh. Some even use generators to power these and other electronic devices. For farming, some use forklifts powered by propane to aid them in their chores.
6. Are the Amish always baptized?
In the Christian faith, baptisms are common. Usually, this is done to babies and young kids. When these babies and kids grow up, they have the decision to either live according to how they were baptized, as a Christian, or choose their own faith. It is drastically different for the Amish.
The Amish know that babies and kids do not yet possess the knowledge and awareness to choose the faith that is applicable for them, so they wait for their kids to grow up. They allow their grown-up kids to decide on their faith. It is primarily the Anabaptist Christian sub-sect that is followed by the Amish. Teenagers are permitted to join the Rumspringa tradition and be baptized later on if they wish.
7. The freedom offered by Rumspringa
The Rumspringa is an Amish tradition that allows Amish teens to set out in the world and explore it as they see fit. The Amish are not strict about forcing their kids to follow their way of life. They permit their teens to decide on their own whether to live the Amish way of life or make their own way out in the world.
Though Amish parents hope their teens will come back to embrace their old traditions, they also give them the freedom to decide. Some Amish teens do get involved in narcotics, parties, and everything else not available back home. However, many prefer to return to the Amish community as soon as possible.
8. Rumspringa-focused youth groups
Though there are a lot of Amish teens who travel to a far-off destination to physically distance themselves from their community, there are those who prefer to stay close to their homes. A lot of Amish communities create youth groups for those who want to spend their reflection time with like-minded teens.
Those outside the Amish communities mistakenly believe these groups are involved in debauchery, but they actually feature wholesome recreational activities. Amish teens get to play sports, improve their social skills, and find a wife or husband.
9. 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.
10. 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 the Amish beliefs. Gender reveal parties would be an abomination.
11. 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.
12. 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 during 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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 during special occasions.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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 own crops, they do not consume fast food, they farm their own 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.
20. 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.
21. Amish vs. Amish
Not everything is a bed of roses in this world, and that statement holds true 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.
22. 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 have 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.
23. 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.
24. 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 Sweden, 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.
25. 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 with each other. 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.
26. 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.
27. 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 prior to announcing their relationship in a “publishing” ceremony held at a church.
28. 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.
29. 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.
30. 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. There are also Amish individuals who 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.
31. 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.
32. 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.
33. 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.
34. Modest goodbye
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 during 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.
35. 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, with 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.
36. 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 in order 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, in fact, allowed to cut their hair on a daily basis if needed.
37. 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 own 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.
38. 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.
There are some people who 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 in order to know and accept their way of life.
39. 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 is able to speak Swiss-Amish along with Pennsylvania Dutch and English. Most Amish people are able to speak each of the three languages while conversing with each other.
40. 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.