You’ve perhaps heard about the Amish, and if you live in Pennsylvania or the midwest, you may have crossed paths now and again. But the reality is that only a few people know a whole lot about this mysterious group of people who well live throughout the United States.
Within their communities, they have avoided technology and, although friendly people, usually shut themselves from the rest of the world. This has instigated them to create a whole new set of norms and traditions that are as impressive as mysterious and strange. From their nuptial traditions to their thoughts on contemporary medicine, we take you on a deep dive into the Amish lifestyle.
Many people think that Amish people use zero electricity, but that is not always the situation. While they do reject technology, there are occasions when electricity is used, including emergency times. There is a specific reason why they don’t allow technology, and it goes back to their strong belief in God. They follow this practice because of “Gelassenheit,” a German word meaning the community should utilize the earth as God intended. Some Amish communities permit people to have landline phones in their barns because it is necessary, but it cannot be used inside their homes.
Long beard, shaved mustaches
If you look at the pictures of Amish men, you will probably notice that they characteristically have a long beard but a smooth-shaven face. This custom dates back to the 1800s when mustaches were perceived as a representation of wealth or people in the armed forces, but that goes against the Amish beliefs. The Amish believe that they should look at how God envisioned, so they don’t cut their beards. They decided to shave their mustaches since they didn’t like what it represented and how it was a style trend at the time. Sometimes you can see men with even shorter beards, but they usually let them grow long.
Calling outsiders as English
There is a practice among Amish people that dates back to when they first settled in the United States. They call all non-Amish people English irrespective of race or culture. They started this because they had no terminology to describe outsiders since they considered themselves Americans just like everyone else. They began calling outsiders English because that was the language their “outsider” neighbors spoke, and it caught throughout time. Things don’t stereotypically change in Amish society when it comes to tradition, so to this day, they still call outsiders “English people.”
Amish teens do have fun
While many people presume Amish teens don’t get to have fun like regular teenagers, which is false. The Amish community elders recognize that teens will rebel, so they allow them to experience the outside world before adulthood. They cannot be disciplined for anything they do or experience outside the Amish world during this time. Between the years of 14 and 18, each Amish teens have the right to leave the communal and experience the outside world as they please. You might have watched this on the TLC show, Breaking Amish. The show showcased five Amish teens who left the Amish world to see what metro cities and technology were like before becoming adults.
Ceremonial right of passage
When a teen wants to part ways with the community, it is a right of passage called “Rumspringa,” which is derivative from German meaning “running around.” This period can extend for a week or even a few years. However, the period is not that significant to the Amish people. By allowing teens to discover the outside world, they hope it will reassure them to return once they have had enough. This inclination to return and accept the Amish way of life allows them to be entirely acknowledged into the community as an adult. This period allows teens to realize that the “English” way of life is not for them.
After teens have returned back from their Rumspringa, they can formally be baptized and accepted as members of the Amish community. There is no age limit for baptisms because the Rumspringa can last many years, or until they comprehend the outside world is not for them. People are always welcome the return to the community. For many teenagers, leaving the community and facing the “English world” is a massive shock. They have never stayed around that much technology, and they are not used to our world’s norms. This makes them desire the uncomplicatedness of their communities, and they end up returning rather quickly. In some cases, these teens never return because they enjoy the outside world more.
No social media
You will not have anyone in the Amish community with a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account. They do not use technology or consume electricity, so they don’t even take photos of each other. They don’t even permit paintings of people, which involves zero electricity, so why is it barred? In the Amish world, it is strictly prohibited for someone to own people’s images, whether it is of themselves or family. When a member of the Amish community deceases, there are no images to recollect them by, so people only have their reminiscences. Photos of people are seen as graven images.
When you choose to date someone, the Amish accept as true that your partner must have the same faith. They think that this leads to a fruitful marriage. Before you can even date, you must be baptized into the Amish church, along with your lover. In Amish society, a duo must have all their dates in a public sphere so that nothing can happen privately before the wedding. Also, these are not arranged marriages. They believe you can marry anyone you like as long as they are also in the Amish community and share the same beliefs.
The wedding night ritual
After you get consent from the church and have your lengthy ceremony, you can finally celebrate being a married couple in Amish society. The newlywed couple will sleep their first night at the bride’s parents’ home to begin the honeymoon. It may seem strange, but this is their tradition. The morning after, the couple customarily cleans the house as a sign of gratefulness. The couple will then relocate onto other relatives and bounce around between dwellings. After this progression, the newlyweds are allowed to spend their first night entirely alone.
Women role is predefined
After women finish school, they start to learn how to cook, sew, keep a house, and tend to their families. This is because Amish women are predestined to be housewives; that is their Amish society’s role. They are asked to take care of the kids like glorified babysitters. Amish women are barred from becoming leaders in their communities, and they cannot make choices for themselves. While this may be miserable for most people, for them, it is all they identify. Once they are married, their husbands have complete control, and they are there to serve and oversee the daily house chores.
Have you met an Amish person?