Many people are unaware of what Amish life is like behind their community walls. But you’re probably aware that the Amish have some strict rules governing their day-to-day activities.
It’s true, they’re bound by a code of conduct as set out in their guide for Amish living - The Ordnung. But what does it say about things like alcohol? Do the Amish drink alcohol? The answer isn’t as cut-and-dried as you may think, and the reasons for this aren’t so black-and-white, either.
To fully understand the Amish attitude to alcohol, we did a deep dive into the subject to bring you this article. Read on, and learn all there is to know about the Amish and alcohol use.
What this article covers:
- Are the Amish Allowed to Drink Alcohol?
- Do Amish Teens Drink Alcohol?
- Why Do Some Amish People Think Drinking Alcohol is Wrong?
Are the Amish Allowed to Drink Alcohol?
The Amish celebrate birthdays, weddings, and other important days. Some of them even celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s usually far more low-key than most modern extravagant bashes you’re familiar with, but they’re not opposed to celebratory feasts.
The Amish are very religious, and a common trait amongst very conservative Christian groups is their avoidance of vices like alcohol and tobacco. That begs the question - Are the Amish allowed to drink alcohol? Or do the Amish drink coffee and tea instead?
The answer is yes, the Amish may drink alcohol if they so choose. They have no rule against it, and unlike some other strict religious groups, they don’t have a ban on certain meats, either. So, can the Amish eat pork? You bet they can! In fact, they love it!
However, not all Amish people drink alcohol, and their reasons aren’t always based on religious objections. More about that a bit later.
Which Alcoholic Drinks Do the Amish Consume?
Many Amish people enjoy beer or wine at feasts or even at home, and some even produce their beers. It’s a part of their Germanic heritage and as such is seen as part of their culture. Therefore, it’s not unusual for Amish men to turn one of their barns into a space for creating community craft beers.
Those Amish who don’t drink alcohol may abstain for religious or personal reasons. That said, even those communities that do allow it generally stick to wine or beer rather than hard liquor. When they do consume alcohol, they usually enjoy it in moderation rather than drink to get drunk.
Which Amish Communities Commonly Drink Alcohol?
There’s no prohibition on alcohol in most communities, but certain strict Old Order communities aren’t in favor of it. You’ll never see Amish men going outside of the community to bars and other such establishments. If they do drink, they do so at home or in the community, at a social gathering.
Some New Order Amish communities are a bit more relaxed about their lifestyle choices. Some of their more liberal views may extend to how they socialize, and that could affect their drinking habits. But they, too, don’t encourage excessive drinking.
What about Drinking at Celebratory Feasts?
Wine is usually reserved for special occasions like wedding feasts. Amish people celebrate weddings just like most people in the modern world. They gather together among friends and family, to wish the young couple well.
They enjoy delicious food together. Why is Amish food so good? Lots and lots of practice! Amish people love a good meal like anyone else, and the women are exceptional cooks and bakers. They’re the caregivers in the community and have perfected their skills over the generations.
Do the Amish have refrigerators for storing these delicious meals? No, they don’t use electricity but use a system of cold storage that includes root cellars and ice boxes.
They may also give the newlyweds gifts. Often, these are handcrafted items made by the community, for use in the home. The Amish are extremely talented at woodworking, quiltmaking, and the weaving of traditional wicker baskets.
Amish Baskets - The Ultimate Gift Selection For The Amish And You
Whereas you may be more accustomed to giving and receiving electrical kitchen appliances as wedding fits, the Amish give handmade gifts. These are made with great skill, patience, and love, and include items like a vintage wicker laundry basket or handy bread serving baskets.
And they also make great housewarming gifts for your community. Surprise your niece or daughter who’s just moved into her apartment. Or your neighbor. Or, even yourself. You don’t need a special occasion to enjoy one of Amish Baskets’ authentic hand-woven treasures.
Amish weddings include feasting, gift-giving, and sometimes even a toast to the new couple. That’s pretty much where the similarity to non-Amish weddings ends. There won’t be any dancing the night away. The Amish don’t dance, although they enjoy singing. So they may join each other in a celebratory chorus.
Do Amish Teens Drink Alcohol?
Teenage drinking is a common problem in many cultures. It’s not a new thing. Every society has dealt with the follies of youth in one form or another. But it’s not a common issue in Amish communities, as their young people don’t go off to college.
However, there’s one time in an Amish person’s life when they live a life similar to that of the modern college student. It’s called Rumspringa.
Perhaps you’ve heard of it, perhaps not, but much has been made of the Amish coming-of-age period There’s a skewed perception of this time in a young person’s life, and outsiders often think it’s a time of debauchery and revelry. That’s not entirely accurate. Let’s take a closer look at how it relates to alcohol.
Alcohol consumption isn’t prohibited in all Amish communities, and neither is it encouraged. It doesn’t play a big role in Amish youth culture, either. However, it often becomes more of a feature during Rumspringa. So, what exactly is Rumspringa all about?
Firstly, it’s not necessarily an open license to go partying, although the youth who partake in it are generally free from repercussions for their behavior at this time. Within reason, that is.
Late teens and young adults who have completed their schooling, but haven’t been baptized yet, are eligible. It’s an opportunity to get a taste of the “outside life’' before being baptized, settling down, and committing to the Amish way of life. Heavy drinking and partying sometimes happen, but this isn’t always the case.
Once the young person has decided to return to the Amish settlement and join the community, they’re expected to abide by the community’s laws. Amish people usually find a marriage partner soon after this, and settle down to start a family of their own. In rare cases, a youth may decide not to return.
Why Do Some Amish People Think Drinking Alcohol is Wrong?
Just like in any other community or cultural group, there are regular drinkers, occasional or social drinkers, and there are also teetotalers who abstain from alcohol completely. And the latter are usually the most conservative and religious of the group.
However, despite religious objections, there are other reasons why some Amish don’t imbibe. For example, a dislike for the taste of alcohol or medical concerns are typical reasons for not drinking alcohol. And some don’t drink because of alcoholism issues in the family.
Alcohol use is common to virtually every cultural group. Sadly, so are alcohol abuse and addiction. It affects every race, gender, age group, and culture. Alcoholism has nothing to do with socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, or political views. It can happen and does happen to anyone. Does that include the Amish?
Is Alcohol Abuse Found in Amish Communities?
Most Amish understand the danger of abuse and are opposed to alcohol abuse. However, that doesn’t mean that they are impervious to the trials of life and the reaches of addiction.
The Amish endure the same trials and tribulations as the rest of society. Death, loss, and heartache are common themes that can touch anyone’s life.
Although the Amish oppose divorce and treat the subject of death far more pragmatically than most, they still face tough times just like everyone does. And just like non-Amish can find themselves seeking solace in alcohol, so too can the Amish. It may not be as common but it can happen.
Fortunately, their sense of brotherhood and community is a soft cushion against the realities of life. And those Amish who suffer from alcohol abuse needn’t feel alone. They have brothers, friends, and elders they can turn to for guidance and support. And, of course, they have their faith to carry them through.
Most Amish have an unwavering stance against alcohol. They see it as a vice that inevitably leads to temptations. And these temptations could lead them astray from their path of devotion.
They do their best to make responsible choices and support those in their community who need help and understanding.
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