With 200,000 Amish people living in the United States, it’s incredible to think that we all basically know nothing about the religious community. They are unique in that they tend to shun any modern advances, and while they’re known for being quite friendly, they often get stereotyped because of general ignorance.
There is plenty to learn about this fringe society that may surprise you and open your eyes to the true reality of being Amish. For instance, did you know they spoke three languages? It’s about time we learn a thing or two about this unusual population of people who live among us that we essentially know nothing about.
Not All Live Without Electricity
Most people may think that all Amish communities don’t use electricity, but that’s actually not 100% true. While there are certainly more conservative Amish communities who refuse to have any electricity in their everyday lives, many do use it for emergency situations.
The reason they live without electricity, for the most part, is because of something called “Gelassenheit”. It basically means “letting be” which is the philosophy that earth should be used as God originally intended.
Everyone Is “English”
It doesn’t matter who you are or what your background is — any person outside of the Amish community is technically considered English. This is because when the Amish first came to America everyone they ran into were English settlers.
The Amish are well known for traditionalism and really refusing to change over time so this is just another one of their customs they decided to keep. They couldn’t call people Americans because the Amish technically consider themselves Americans too.
All By Memory
You’ll probably not be finding a surge of social media accounts from the Amish community any time soon. They don’t get their pictures taken all too often (which we’ll talk more about that later) and they don’t do paintings either.
When someone dies from your family, they don’t have images to remember them except for their memories. If someone has a photo or painting of someone, it is considered to be a graven image and is not allowed.
The Infamous Beards
If you’ve ever seen an Amish man, you’re probably aware that they all have an interesting facial hair pattern. They grow out a long beard which dates back to the 1800s when a mustache used to symbolize wealth or that you were in the military, which is against their belief.
The Amish don’t follow fashionable statements, so having a mustache would go against everything they believe in. They want to be ordinary and plain and continue to think we’re still stuck in the 1800s apparently. Growing out a beard symbolizes an Amish man really becoming a man, and they tend to stop trimming it once they get married.
Simple Clothing Only
It’s safe to say that you probably won’t see too many Amish people wandering around your local mall anytime soon. A big part of the Amish philosophy is avoiding vanity and selfishness, so they make sure that everyone is equal.
Women will all basically dress the same. Simple dresses that are mono-colored while the men all wear black pants and a dress shirt. They don’t wear any jewelry or makeup. They do however wear a bonnet or a hat, but that’s the only accessory they’re allowed to wear.
Their Principle Rule To Live By
It’s a simple rule that the Amish believe in that’s basically their be all end all. It’s “Be ye not conformed to this world,” which is in Romans 8:12 in the bible. This quote essentially says that they shouldn’t conform to this world in any form.
If you truly believe that’s the word of God, it’s easy to see why the Amish are so secluded and archaic. They remove themselves as best as they can from everyday life in the rat race to live simple lifestyles and it’s pretty impressive.
You Can’t Marry Until You Join The Church
It probably comes to no surprise that Amish people will only marry other Amish people. It’s crucial for them to marry someone who fully accepts their faith because it has some strict lifestyle guidelines.
Basically, you can’t date anyone unless they are baptized into the Amish faith. You can’t even start dating until after you are officially part of the community. The two individuals have to spend the first portion of dating in public areas only.
There Are No Arranged Marriages
Contrary to popular belief, the Amish actually don’t have arranged marriages or force people to get married to each other. Just as they have a choice to join the Amish church in the first place, they also have a choice to marry whoever they want.
There are restrictions on who you can marry like they can’t marry anyone outside of the church, but the specific person is up to them. That’s actually more progressive than many of the other major religions in other parts of the world, which certainly do have arranged marriages.
Couples Get To “Bundle”
The Amish actually allow young couples to sleep together, but probably not in the way that many are envisioning. Part of the dating process involves bundling, which is basically when a man and a woman sleep in the same bed but they are fully clothed and separated.
The idea of bundling is supposed to help the couples grow together and strengthen the bond between the two. They both have to stay up all night talking about everything and anything which would be absolutely exhausting.
They Speak Three Languages
It’s interesting to note that everyone who lives in an Amish community is actually tri-lingual. Most people probably don’t realize that even if they live in America, their first language is German (which is their native language).
When the Amish first settled into America they vowed that they would bring their native language and traditions from Germany over to their new home. That is why all of their religious services are in German and many of the important traditions and services come from a German word. They also speak English and Pennsylvania Dutch.
They Rarely Get Cancer
Let’s get one thing very clear, the Amish certainly don’t have the cure for cancer and I don’t see them being the driving force to create it any time soon. But, they certainly know how to prevent it.
Living in an Amish community has actually shown to significantly decrease your chances of getting cancer or other serious illnesses or diseases. It’s because everything that they consume is organic and grown by themselves. They also are not allowed to drink alcohol, do drugs, or smoke cigarettes so that certainly helps.
They Can Have Church Anywhere
If you’re looking to go to an Amish community to visit anytime soon, don’t expect to find any big, beautiful architecture or churches. The Amish aren’t about showmanship if you haven’t already got that vibe.
In fact, they believe that they don’t need a church or anything fancy because you can teach the bible anywhere. Often times church services take place outside or even in their own homes. They are very simple services with no music or alters — just preaching the word.
They, In-Fact, Do Get Medical Treatment
One thing that does need to be noted about the Amish is that they do get medical treatment. Unlike some of the other extreme forms of worship, they do see the benefit in medicine. They don’t use technology or electricity for the most part but they will use modern medicine if needed.
They prefer to have all natural treatments, but if someone gets sick they will not be opposed to taking them to the doctor or even the hospital. I mean, there is nothing in the bible that says getting medical treatment is bad.
Property Given To The Youngest Son
In most other cultures, the property of a farmer would always get sent down to the oldest son. That’s not what happens in the Amish communities. A family’s property/farm typically goes to the youngest son because by the time the parents retire all the older children will have moved on.
Basically, it’s hoping for perfect timing. You want to be able to retire by the time your youngest gets old enough to take it over. You assume that the older sons will already have settled families and properties themselves.
The Comparison To Mennonites
Many people don’t know that the Mennonite community and the Amish community are two totally different things. They often times get lumped into the same religion, but they’re not. The Amish actually branched off of the Mennonite church and while they hold some similar beliefs, they have some significant differences.
Mennonites embrace technology way more than the Amish and they also tend to wear more modern clothing are more embracing of the outside world. They do both believe that people should be baptized as adults because children can’t make the decision themselves.
Some Don’t Mind Their Photo Getting Taken
The Amish community remains fairly untouched by civilization and technology because they don’t like getting their picture taken. They don’t allow ownership of cameras or even have pictures of themselves anywhere. As mentioned, they rely on memory when someone passes away.
But, with that being said, some Amish people are completely fine with getting their pictures taken. It’s a mixed bag of some who will downright refuse to be photographed and those who are little more tolerant.
The Community Acts As A School
Amish kids only go to school until the eighth grade, but they continue to learn after that. The entire community acts like a vocational school for them because they are taught the essentials of living in an Amish community.
They learn how to be farmers, homemakers, carpenters, and tradesmen. It’s basically like college for them because afterward, they know how to do a job. They don’t see much importance in getting a conventional education and would rather teach their kids the practical side of things.
Church And State Are Separate
What’s always puzzling to people who don’t know much about the Amish community and just go off of stereotypes is that they believe in the separation of church and state. For them, the word of God is way more important than the rule of our government.
That’s why they decline social security benefits and public funding. They don’t swear any oaths and will never join the military. They also see the church as being the only authority figure in their lives which is why they don’t really care about politics.
No Music For The Amish
At this point of the article, it should be pretty obvious what the Amish’s take on music is. Not so surprisingly, they don’t listen to iPods or listen to the radio every morning. They aren’t even allowed to make their own music.
No musical instrument is allowed because that would be a form of self-expression which could lead to pride. They worry that someone who is musically inclined would feel that they are better than someone else who doesn’t have any musical talent.
Good Wear Out Of Your Wedding Dress
While most people will only wear their wedding dress once, Amish women get to wear their wedding dresses every Sunday. For an Amish wedding, they have to sew their own dress and while some communities say the dress has to be blue, others allow for whatever color.
After the wedding, that is the dress that she will be wearing every Sunday and will also be buried in it. Imagine how excited women would be to be able to wear their wedding dresses without getting looked at weirdly!