Amish Facts That May Surprise You

There’s so much more to the Amish way of life, their core values, and their experiences that many of us have never even acknowledged before.

Extreme rules

Many people spend their lives abiding by the rules of their own self, their parents, their beliefs, or specific religious books – and it’s fair to say that Amish people are no different. They spend their lives adhering to guidelines and regulations, and these particular rules are laid out within the Ordnung.

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While each Amish community adheres to their own Ordnung, they are all very similar in terms of what they want from their people and feature a code of practice whereby each Amish person can live out their lives in the proper Amish way. As well as offering rules, the Ordnung also lays out punishments and consequences for when someone within their community breaks them. Because of this, the Ordnung is extremely important within the Amish community.

The beard and the bard

One of the defining characteristics of an Amish man is his beard, but you may have noticed that younger Amish men do not have beards. Well, it turns out that you can tell a lot about a man by his beard – because the Ordnung lays out specific rules for this kind of facial hair.

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On his wedding day, an Amish man vows to start growing a beard, and the rules dictate that he’s not allowed to cut or trim it for the rest of his life. For this reason, younger unmarried Amish men do not have beards, while it’s easy to tell that older men with longer beards have been married for a long time. However, mustaches are not permitted.

Their own tongue

If you have ever communicated with a member of the Amish community, you probably spoke to them in English. That’s because most Amish communities learn this language from a young age, meaning that they are fluent when it comes to talking to each other and those outside of their everyday life.

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What you might not know, though, is that many Amish communities in North America also have their own language, which they normally speak in the comfort of their own home. Often called Pennsylvania Dutch or Low German, this language is specific to the Amish. It’s often considered to be outdated and old, but there’s no doubt about the fact that there are thousands of Amish families out there who still speak Pennsylvania Dutch.

Substance over style

In today’s day and age, many people experiment with their style and their fashion sense. They wear bright colors, they showcase bold patterns, and they opt for clothes in all shapes and sizes that show off their bodies in many ways. That’s because the old-fashioned rules go out of the window in most communities when it comes to dress codes, but that isn’t the case within the Amish community.

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The Amish men and women who live in North America and further afield normally have to adhere to strict codes of dress that showcase modesty and humility. For that reason, it’s much easier for them to adopt a simple style. Women normally wear dresses in muted colors with bonnets on their heads.

Living with technology

It’s long been suggested that Amish communities live by candlelight and denounce any kind of technology, and while that is true for many families and towns, this isn’t the case for every single Amish person out there. While the general rule of thumb is that they adopt a simple way of life, there are many Amish communities out there who recognize that technology can enhance their lives in many ways.

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Some families opt for candles and old-fashioned cooking methods, while others have refrigerators plugged into generators outside of their homes. This is also the case when it comes to construction, as many Amish communities have chosen to utilize the likes of propane-powered forklifts to help them out on a daily basis.

Baptism or no baptism?

Every faith has its own rules and systems in place when it comes to inviting others to join their faith, and this is where Christian baptisms come into play. Within the Christian faith, babies and young children are baptized at a young age, and then it’s down to them to make a decision as to whether they want to continue within this faith as they get older.

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However, things work a little differently within Amish communities as they are Anabaptists. Although they follow a sub-sect of Christianity, those within the Amish community prefer to let their children make their own decisions before they baptize them. Because of this, teenagers take part in the Rumspringa, and if they return, they are then baptized.

The infamous Rumspringa

If you have heard of the Rumspringa tradition, you may know that it’s often seen in a negative light. During this tradition, Amish teenagers are allowed to take themselves away from their secluded and tight-knit communities to explore big cities and the world outside of their homes.

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By doing this, they hope that they will return home to their families – and more convinced in their faith than ever. Of course, there are some Amish youngsters who do get involved in parties, narcotics, and other dangerous substances and ultimately do not return to their Amish communities. This isn’t always the case, though, and many find it to be a great way to solidify their faith and their place within the Amish way of life.

Rumspringa youth groups

Although many teens travel to far and distant destinations to enjoy their Rumspringa adventure, there are others who stay a little closer to home. That’s because many Amish communities put together youth groups for those who want to embrace the period of reflection. Many people have noted that these youth groups are simply party groups that encourage debauchery and scandal, but this just isn’t the case.

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Most of them feature all kinds of traditional and recreational activities, where youths and older teenagers play sport, develop social skills, and mingle in an effort to find a husband or wife. Of course, there are a few that offer different activities, but these are very few and far between within the Amish communities.

Amish controversies

Because the Amish community is secluded from the rest of the world and rarely makes the headlines, it’s easy to assume that they are all law-abiding citizens who do not cause any drama. However, it seems as though bad apples appear in every bunch – and it’s no different within the Amish community.

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Back in the 1990s, Amish people were called into question when it was discovered that two Amish men were caught buying and dealing around $100,000 worth of illicit substances. While many assumed that they were selling to those outside of the Amish community, controversy arose when it was discovered that they were selling within their own community. This made people see the Amish in a different light.

Keeping it schtum

Many people across the globe consider their children to be a blessing, and the same can be said for those who live within the Amish community. Amish people believe that kids are the only treasures that they can take with them to heaven, so young people are treasured, and well looked after on a daily basis.

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Things are a little different when it comes to talking about the pregnancy itself, though. Amish men and women keep it schtum when it comes to how babies are conceived because it goes against their rules of modesty and humility – but that’s not the only thing that they keep quiet. Because children are considered to be a gift, they rarely mention baby bumps, baby kicks, or even due dates.

All is forgiven

The Rumspringa is an important rite of passage for young people within the Amish community, as it’s supposed to solidify their place in the world and their faith as a whole. While many young Amish people spread their wings and enjoy a different way of life for a while, they make their way back to their families and their community without any real scratches or changes to their personality or beliefs.

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That’s not the same for everyone, though. Even if an Amish youngster goes extremely wild during their Rumspringa adventure, all is forgiven once they make their way back to their parents and their community. After all, they made the decision to return, which gives them a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Getting up close and personal

When it comes to Amish communities, relationships and marriages are extremely important. It’s rare to come across an Amish person who is single, but have you ever wondered how these guys start dating in the first place? Well, it seems as though there are some rules to be followed. The male always takes the lead when it comes to this courtship, and it’s definitely a long one.

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This process normally starts when they are in their late teens and early twenties, and the man will showcase his attraction by picking his potential romantic partner and her family up from the church in his horse and cart. Then, they have to write to each other for a whole year before he is eventually allowed to ask for her hand in marriage.

Ready for Bundling

Because the courtship process is so lengthy and filled with rules, it might surprise you to learn that Amish couples are allowed to sleep in the same bed before they become husband and wife. This is a tradition that has been ongoing for decades – but it’s not quite as simple as it seems. Before these two get hitched, they have to go through the process of ‘Bundling.’

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This is where the couple can spend the night together and get together properly, but in a bed that has a divider down the middle. The man and the woman are not allowed to touch, and they have to be fully clothed throughout the whole night. They don’t sleep during the Bundling process but instead talk from dusk till dawn.

A simple wedding

By this point, you should probably be aware of the fact that Amish communities live simple lives. They do not embrace extravagance or things that are not necessary, and they focus on what’s really important instead. This can be seen within their wedding ceremonies. In many other communities and cultures, weddings are a cause for celebration, with many people turning their ceremonies into giant parties that cost a huge amount of money.

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Amish people do not think of a wedding in this way, though. They want their weddings to focus on the sanctity of marriage rather than the day itself, so keep their weddings simple. The dress code is casual, there are no rings involved, and it’s a relatively small and tight-knit affair.

An Amish education

Many people across the globe see a high school education as a gift, and they long to stay in education for as long as possible to better themselves and gain as much insight into the educational world as possible. Yet, things aren’t quite the same in Amish communities.

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Almost all Amish people live sustainably and spend their days tending to their crops or maintaining their homes, which is why they do not believe that education is beneficial to them. While their kids do make their way to school until the eighth grade, this grade marks the end of their education adventure. From that moment on, young boys are taught to work with their hands, and young girls are taught to tend to their homes.

The wedding dress

For their wedding, many Amish women make their own wedding dresses. These are casual dresses in terms of modern fashion and style, but they are considered to be the best dress that any Amish woman could ever own. Because of this, women within the Amish community wear their wedding dress to church every single Sunday.

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These dresses are normally blue in color, but women are allowed to choose what kind of fabric and what shade they want to wear. Then, instead of keeping the dress in a box for the rest of their lives, they make sure that it gets good use on the most important day of the week. This is extremely important to the Amish community.

All about the good deeds

Baptisms are a huge part of many people’s faith, and this is especially true within the Amish and the Christian faith. Not only do these two communities baptize their people at different points in their life, but they also have different beliefs when it comes to this important day. For many Christians, a baptism marks the person’s ticket into heaven without any strings attached.

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During the baptism, the water washes away their sins and allows them to stand in the presence of God. This isn’t what Amish people believe, though. While they believe baptism to be important, they also believe that they have to be continually good throughout their whole lives. Because of this, they focus on enacting good deeds every single day.

Passing it down

In many countries and communities around the world, inheritance plays a huge part in the passing down of knowledge, money, and security. It’s often been suggested that when the parents pass away, the eldest son inherits his father’s fortune – and this is a rule that many families across the globe abide by. Amish people like to do things a little differently, though.

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In their eyes, the eldest son should have learned enough from his father before he passed away to know how to support his family and how to live his life. On the other hand, they believe that the youngest son would not only struggle in terms of finances but also struggle in terms of life experience. So, everything is inherited by the youngest son in the family.

A healthier lifestyle

It’s long been speculated that the modern world’s use of technology has contributed to our ill health, and technology has often been associated with higher levels of cancer. While many people have questioned this in the past, it seems as though Amish people could be the link between this train of thought and reality.

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That’s because Amish people have an incredibly low risk of getting cancer over the course of their lives, and many people put this down to the fact that they create their own lives for themselves. They grow their own crops, they farm their own animals for organic meat, they make their own food, and they do not surround themselves with technology. They are also extremely active and spend most of their days outside.

Never too late to apologize

Amish people try to live their lives as perfectly as possible, and they try their best to be law-abiding citizens every single day. However, they also appreciate that there are instances where people can make the wrong decision and make a mistake. In this instance, the Meidung order comes into play.

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Whenever any Amish individual breaks the rules, they are given two options within this order. They either have to acknowledge their mistakes and apologize to those they have wronged and the community as a whole, or they can choose to ignore their actions and deal with the consequences. This consequence is being shunned by their family and their community, meaning that they have to leave the Amish world behind.

Getting their own back

Of course, there are many Amish people who do make mistakes – whether intentionally or intentionally. While many lawbreakers are dealt with within their own community and without any outside forces such as the police, there are instances where the authorities have to get involved. This happened in 2011 when a gang of Amish men was caught by the police and sent to jail.

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The men had found themselves in a war with another group of Amish people, and they were concerned that these men were going against the traditional values of their community. To get their own back on these transgressions, the gang broke into the homes of these men and whipped out their razors to shave off their beards.

Exempt from drafting

Although you may have never questioned it before, there is a reason why you never see someone from the Amish community working with the military. That’s because Amish people stand by the belief that violence doesn’t solve anything, and they reject war as a whole. Because of their beliefs, the United States government has honored their way of life and noted that they are exempt from any kind of military drafting.

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This means that they would never fight on the front line, and would not use violence against other people because they were told to do so. Instead, they can continue to live their peaceful lives away from any kind of war or tension, and not have to worry about being drafted.

We’re all alike

Many Amish women spend their days cleaning their homes, cooking for their husbands and children, and making dolls. In fact, it has become a wonderful pastime for these women to make these Amish dolls – but they’re not quite like the dolls that we’re used to seeing and playing with. That’s because these dolls do not have any facial features.

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While many would suggest that this was simply a design flaw and something that was forgotten during the production process, Amish people will confirm that this was always meant to be the case. All Amish dolls are made without faces because they showcase the fact that, in their eyes, all humans are equal in the eyes of God.

A growing population

It’s easy to assume that the Amish community is small and secluded, but it seems as though that isn’t the case. The first Amish community can be traced back to the 1600s, and while its popularity first took off in Sweden, it has since made its way across the world, with the large majority of Amish people living in the United States.

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What’s so amazing about these communities, though, is that they are growing at an incredible rate. The Amish population has since made its mark as one of the fast-growing populations that this planet has to offer, and the numbers keep growing every single year. At the moment, it’s estimated that there are around 350,000 Amish people living in the United States.

Health struggles

While it’s a true testament to the lives of the Amish when it comes to their low cancer risk, there’s no doubt about the fact that they do have other health struggles. Sure, they spend their days out in the sun and eat organic, homegrown food – but there often comes risks when you keep your community close to you.

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It’s been noted that the current Amish population can be traced back to the same 100 people, which means that families have merged within themselves. This has since been called the “Founder Effect,” and it’s been suggested that this has led many Amish people to live with undiagnosed genetic disorders. However, Amish people rarely see doctors, so these conditions remain undiagnosed for most of their lives.

Making some music

Every Sunday, Amish men and women make their way to church and sing hymns and carols that bring them closer to their faith. They love singing these religious songs on a regular basis, but it seems as though there comes a cut-off point in this kind of creativity and musical talent. That’s because the Amish community does not allow anyone to practice or play an instrument.

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Learning to play such an instrument is deemed to be too creative and too self-expressive, which is forbidden in such a humble environment. Amish people believe that all human beings are equal and that instruments suggest an air of superiority among those who learn to play them. So, you won’t find any instruments in an Amish community.

Keeping it a secret

In today’s day and age, we don’t need to wait too long to know that a couple has got engaged. They are normally updating their relationship status within minutes and posting a picture of the ring on social media just a short while later. It becomes a celebration for many people, but newly-engaged couples within the Amish community have to keep their love a secret.

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While they are allowed to tell their immediate family and parents about the engagement, they are forbidden from sharing the news after the question is popped. Instead, they have to wait until four weeks before the big day, and they have to make this news public through a “publishing” ceremony at their church. This is the only way that it can be done.

Honeymoon adventures

Because their weddings are so minimal and simple, it’s hard to imagine that newlywed couples head off on a honeymoon after they tie the knot. However, it seems as though they do. While modern non-Amish couples often make their way to exotic locations to lounge on a beach with their new husband or wife, Amish couples do things a little differently.

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For their honeymoon, they make their way around various Amish communities to visit their friends and family in order to celebrate their nuptials. They are given gifts along the way and make sure to spend time with their loved ones in the process. It’s not the honeymoon that most of us are used to, but it’s still a honeymoon.

Divided opinions

Amish people follow the rules laid out within the Bible and their own rules as part of Ordnung, but there are certain things that are not spoken out within these guidelines. This is the case for modern medicine, and there’s no doubt about the fact that Amish communities across the United States and around the world are pretty divided on this matter.

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While there are some more traditional Amish communities who denounce any form of modern medicine because they feel as though it goes against their simple way of life, there are others who are more willing to give it a try. Yet, even if they wanted to use modern medicine, they would have to cough up the money themselves, as they are not insured.

Getting snap-happy

Many people outside of the Amish community are under the impression that taking photos of Amish people is off-limits and against their rules and their beliefs – and this isn’t exactly incorrect. There are still many Amish communities out there who do not want you to take your modern technology into their homes and use it to take pictures of them, and that’s completely understandable.

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However, there are other communities that are much lenient when it comes to taking photos. They know that people want to learn more about their lives, and some people don’t mind being the main attraction for their photoshoot. Of course, you should never take photos without obtaining their permission and consent beforehand, as this would be impolite.

Getting around town

Nowadays, people get around their own towns in various different ways. They might drive their car, they might ride the subway, or they might even hail an Uber. These things aren’t available to those in Amish communities, though, and they are also not conducive to their beliefs.

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Amish people have been riding around in their buggies for centuries, and they believe that these horses and carts are the only things they need to make their way around their local area. It’s very rare to come across Amish people who do have cars, as they tend to denounce modern vehicles as a whole. That doesn’t mean that they will turn down an offer to ride in the backseat of a car, though.

Ruling the roost

For many people across the globe, men and women are becoming increasingly equal in so many ways. Women are making their way out of their ‘homemaker’ stereotype and bagging themselves in high-powered jobs, and more women are making their way into politics. We still have a way to go before men and women are truly equal, but it seems as though Amish communities aren’t about that life.

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Because they are considered to be old fashioned, it may not come as a surprise to learn that Amish men still rule the roost while their wives stay at home and do as they say. They do this because they believe that the Bible showcases a difference between men and women and their roles in society.

An environmental effect

While there’s no doubt about the fact that the sustainability in Amish communities has to be celebrated, it seems as though some people aren’t too happy with the way that they live their lives. Because Amish people grow their own food, farm their own animals, and denounce modern hygiene initiatives, much of their waste makes its way into local streams and rivers.

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Those who live near to these Amish communities have since complained that they are polluting the natural world and having an adverse effect on the environment. Things have gotten so bad in the past that the EPA has had to ask the Amish people to change their ways. Unfortunately, they have largely ignored these suggestions.

Saying goodbye

It’s always hard to say goodbye to the people that you love, and many people put a lot of thought into what they want to be buried in. Some people want to be buried in their best suit, while others want to ensure that they are wearing their best dressed on the day. The Amish have another way of saying goodbye to the physical realm, though.

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Not only do women wear their wedding dresses on their wedding day and during the Sunday church service, but they are also buried wearing this dress. However, that’s not all. Amish women are also buried with an apron over their wedding dress, to maintain their modesty and their humility even after their passing.

Animals schmanimals

We’ve already learned that Amish people abide by the notion that all human beings are equal, and they even spend their days doing good deeds for each other to ensure that everyone around them is happy. However, it’s fair to say that they don’t think the same about animals.

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It’s often been suggested that Amish people do not treat their horses and other animals with the same respect as they would their fellow humans. In fact, it’s been reported on numerous occasions that Amish people mistreat their horses and do not feed them enough and that they do not milk their cows as much as they should. This often means that they pass away earlier than they should in their lives.

A horrible crime

Although Amish women rarely wear their hair down, if they did ever do this, we would realize that their hair is incredibly long. That’s because, in Amish communities, hair is one of the most sacred things to appear on the body. Because of this, Amish women are not allowed to cut their hair at all. Instead, they just have to continually grow from birth.

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They often keep their hair up in a bun to ensure that their long hair can stay away from their face. Men are allowed to trim their hair so that it doesn’t get in the way of their work on a daily basis, but they do have to shave their beard off before they tie the knot.

Living separate lives

Just as many people find the rules and lifestyle of the Amish to be fairly strange, Amish people think exactly the same when it comes to those outside of their community. Because they are brought up in very sheltered communities where they rarely get to glimpse others who are not Amish, they are often fearful and uncomfortable with those people.

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They only socialize with those within the Amish community, and they stick to their own family units and their own friends. When youngsters come to take part in Rumspringa, they often find it difficult to communicate with those who are not used to their lifestyle, and they often struggle to make friends. However, they learn to adapt in the end.

Adding new people

There are many religions out there who actively try to add new additions to their brood, and they are sent on missions to convert former non-believers into believers. That isn’t the case for Amish people, though, and they do not actively spend their days trying to convert those who aren’t Amish to join the Amish faith.

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Just because they don’t do this doesn’t mean that they don’t have people wanting to join off their own backs, though. Although a small handful of people try to embrace the Amish lifestyle every year, the acceptance rates are pretty low. That’s because any potential Amish addition has to live within another family’s home for many months to learn the ropes.

Learning new languages

We’ve already learned that Amish people not only learn English as youngsters but that they are often fluent in their own mother tongue as well. It seems as though these aren’t the only languages they are taught over the course of their lives, though. While Amish people do not complete a full education, they are often recognized for their ability to be trilingual.

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These particular individuals can normally be found in the state of Indiana, which is home to many Amish communities. These people also speak Swiss-Amish alongside English and Pennsylvania Dutch, and they often flit between all three languages when they are talking to each other. That takes some serious skills and is something that they should definitely be proud of.

Do not agree

Although they largely keep to themselves, Amish people often hear what other people think about them through the grapevine, and it seems as though there’s one particular notion that they just don’t agree with. Despite the fact that many people outside of the Amish community believe that Amish women are oppressed by the mane, they do not agree with this at all.

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In their eyes, taking care of the home, cooking food, and looking after the children is one of the most important jobs that any human could have, and they believe that it’s a real honor for women to be able to do that successfully. Amish men respect their wives and daughters for looking after them, much to the dismay of others looking in.

All by hand

Saying goodbye to a family member, loved one, or a close friend within the community can be hard, and this is just as hard on Amish people as it is others around the world. Just like many other communities out there, the Amish want to honor those who have passed, and they ensure that their funeral and their resting place is something that respects their lives.

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However, the Amish also ensure that they stick to their belief during this time, which is why they choose to dig all of their graves by hand, without the use of any heavy machinery. As if that wasn’t enough, they also weave coffins out of wood they forage by hand and then fashion into a burial casket.

 

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