Amish Beard Rules
Men’s facial hair fashions come and go, but there’s one group of men who always stay true to their unique looks. Amish men are easily identified, as they have a distinctive appearance. They’re well known for their traditional, conservative attire and full beards. And they have some unusual Amish beard rules.
The iconic Amish beard isn’t affected by social trends. This isn’t a mere fashion statement, nor is it borne from a reluctance to groom. Rather, it’s a time-honored symbol of both piety and masculinity. If you’d like to know more about the famous Amish beard, keep reading.
What this article covers:
Why Do Amish Men Have Beards
So, why do Amish men have those impressive beards? There are two main reasons why the Amish grow those big beards. As you can imagine, like almost everything they do, one of the reasons is inspired by the Bible.
There are numerous references to beards in the Bible. Nineteen verses mention them, and it’s clear that the biblical writers saw beards as a wonderful symbol of masculinity. That isn’t so unusual, as beards were still very popular in the days the biblical texts were compiled.
One of the most quoted biblical texts regarding beards is Leviticus chapter 19 verse 27, which says, “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard”. The Amish follow this biblical commandment, implicitly.
The Amish are a very conservative Christian sect. They hold the Bible and its teachings in high esteem, as the inspired word of God. And therefore, they believe that if beards are seen so positively in the Bible, it must be a sign of piety.
Amish Beard Rules Were Among the First Amish Laws
Jakob Amman, the leader and founder of the very first Amish, and the man who gave the people their name ( Amman - Amish) set Amish beard rules to rule in motion before they were even fully established as a separate sect.
He believed that, because God designed man to grow a beard, it was God’s Will that man grow a beard. And therefore, shaving it off was a sin. But the Amish are not alone in their reverence for the beard. The wearing of beards is encouraged in other religious groups among the Abrahamic faiths, of which Christianity is just one.
When Do Amish Men Grow Beards?
It’s only once they are married, that Amish men grow beards. It is a sign of the transition from boyhood to manhood. Unmarried Amish men do not sport beards.
Coincidentally, this is the only way to tell if an Amish man is married or not. There are no other tell-tale clues, as the Amish people don’t wear wedding bands. So the Amish beard also fulfills that vital function.
From the time they are married, Amish men are forbidden to shave or cut off their beards. They grow for the rest of their lives, as an enduring sign of the longevity of their marriages.
What if an Amish Man Can’t Grow a Beard?
If beards are held in such high esteem, what happens when an Amish man can’t grow a beard? This is actually not such a big problem. Because, the issue is not so much that men must grow beards, but rather that they should not shave their naturally growing beards off.
Therefore, if a young man is genetically unable to grow facial hair, he is not penalized in any way. He will still be able to get married, even if his face is as smooth and hair-free as a handmade Amish doll. As long as he is not clean shaven through his own doing, there will be no repercussions.
Can an Amish Man Be Punished for Shaving His Beard?
All Amish men are required to grow their beards out when they get married. The Amish-style beard, which has no mustache, is one of their oldest laws. It was recommended by their founder before they even came to be known as Amish.
They’re happy to do so, and wouldn’t want to break this rule as it has so much meaning for them. If for whatever reason, a married Amish man shaved his beard, it would most certainly be frowned upon. And he would be told by the elders to leave his beard to grow out again.
An unmarried man won’t be punished for shaving, as the rule only applies to married men. So unmarried Amish men whose facial hair has started to grow will always shave it off. However, they will do so with a razor and not an electric shaver. Amish people are forbidden from using most electrical appliances.
Why Don’t the Amish Have Mustaches
When you first encounter an Amish man face-to-face, you may notice something different about his appearance. Something that you can’t quite figure out at first. Then, it dawns on you; there’s no mustache on that rugged, masculine face!
Yes, Amish men grow full beards, but they never grow mustaches. And there's a fascinating reason behind these Amish hair rules. To understand it, we have to take you back in time: to 18th and 19th-century military fashions.
From 1860 to 1916, the British Army imposed an unusual mandatory regulation on their soldiers. They had to grow a mustache. This seems to have been inspired by the French military, whose soldiers had sported mustaches in the 18th century as a symbol of strength and virility.
However, not even the French had invented this military fashion. They’d borrowed it from other European countries. What does this have to do with the Amish, we hear you thinking. More than you might guess!
Mustaches Represent Something the Amish Don’t Believe in
You see, the Amish are pacifists. They’re forbidden from joining the military or displaying violence in any form. That means no aggressive sports and no glorification of violent activities. The military is an institution that engages in aggressive and often violent pursuits.
Any fashion that is seen to be representative of violence is a no-no. That’s why the Amish shave their mustaches. Of course, this odd military mandate no longer applies, but once the association was made, it stuck. So, that’s why Amish men grow beards to this day, yet they don’t grow mustaches.
Can Amish People Shave?
Because Amish men shave their mustaches off, you may be wondering now if Amish are allowed to shave. While married men may shave their mustaches only, unmarried men may shave their beards, too.
The only prohibition on shaving applies to the beards of married men. Amish women may shave their body hair if they choose to, although most don’t. There’s no rule against shaving any hair other than the beard hair of a married man.
However, the Amish are admonished against any form of vanity. This is evident from their modest clothing, and lack of make-up or jewelry. Many of the more conservative Amish would view shaving body hair as a form of vanity.
Can Amish Men Have Haircuts?
Yes, Amish men may cut their hair. There are several male Amish hairstyles although they aren’t allowed to grow their hair long as women do. But once again, the issue of vanity comes up. Amish men prefer practical haircuts, and don’t wear their hair in modern styles or follow hair fashion trends.
And that brings us to why the other oft-asked question. Why don't Amish women cut their hair? Just as beards are seen as a sign of manhood for Amish men, long hair is seen as the crowning glory of Amish women.
Amish women may not cut their hair, although they always keep it covered outside the home. They wear traditional bonnets called kapps at all times when they’re out in public. Unmarried Amish women wear black kapps, while the married women wear white.
The Amish beard with its lack of mustache has come to represent all Amish men. Together with their modest style of dress, it has made them instantly recognizable wherever they go.
But rather than seeing it as a rule that they must obey, the Amish men are proud of their beards. It’s as much a sign of their commitment to the institution of marriage, as it is to their love of God’s Word.
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