Formally known as the Old Order Amish, the Amish are an Anabaptist traditional Christian group with origins based in Swiss-German and Alsatian groups. They’re closely related to Mennonites.
The majority of the Amish population resides in the U.S, specifically North America and yet people are still unfamiliar with the type of Amish people.
The Amish originated as followers of Jakob Ammann who set out his teachings in the 17th century.
Their teachings and beliefs state life should be simple and one should remain unspotted from the rest of the world. That means they live an old-fashioned life compared to the rest of the world.
They lead an uncomplicated life of faith and follow their core values strongly, resulting in a long-lasting faithful community.
While Amish people are inherently faithful and plain people, their way of life and how they established themselves is fascinating to learn about. Keep reading to find out more about their culture, laws, customs, and what they do.
What this article covers:
- What Makes You Amish?
- Is Amish an Ethnicity?
- What Is Amish Culture?
- Amish Laws and Customs
- What Do the Amish Do?
What Makes You Amish?
To be accepted and baptized into the Amish religion, a person has to be an adult that lives strictly by the Amish rules.
Amish children are raised in the community, and when they come of age they are given the choice to be baptized to join the community.
Many aspects of the community are based on family activities and teamwork, which is why children are important to the Amish. It’s not uncommon for many Amish families to have seven to ten children.
In many cases, the only true Amish are those born into the community. According to studies many outsiders who convert end up leaving for various reasons.
If a person breaks any rules or traditions set by the community, they will be removed from their Amish title and asked to leave.
For an outsider to become one of the community, they must show a genuine desire to convert to the Amish lifestyle. Communities do not seek outsiders.
It’s quite difficult for outsiders to join a community and many don’t show enough interest and faith to go through the process.
The Amish have very strict criteria. Learning their language, and their traditions are a must. Outsiders need to live as they do for some time and show a true understanding of their faith before being accepted.
Is Amish an Ethnicity?
The Amish meet all the criteria of an ethnic group. Being united under the Swiss-German language, culture, and ancestry makes Amish an official ethnicity.
In the 1600s, Jakob Ammann and his followers began shunning and denying innovations and religious changes. This caused a split between the Swiss Anabaptists, creating the two cultures of Amish and Mennonites that we know today.
Many Amish communities have adopted English as a language and can speak it fluently. They do, however, prefer to speak the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, which is the most frequently used of the Amish languages. Pennsylvania Dutch has been slightly diluted by English, but it still heavily resembles the language of their homeland, which means the Amish can understand German.
Marriage occurs between members of the community, and families often intermarry, making their ethnicity identifiable as largely European caucasian.
The Amish originated in Europe, but there are no longer Amish communities in Europe today. That’s because of the persecution they suffered during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Amish population in America is one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the country. Their population in the U.S has nearly doubled in the past 20 years.
Today, the majority of their communities are in North America, with small groups around the world in other countries.
Their population has risen steadily as a result of their large families. The Amish believe that large families and many children are a blessing from God.
What Is Amish Culture?
The Amish don’t believe in using modern technology and conveniences, instead focusing to lead a simple life.
The Amish are faithful people who believe in a life of godly discipline. They practice strict church morals and believe in non-violence, forgiveness, and discipline.
The cornerstone of the Amish way of life and belief system is their dedication to religion and what it allows them to do.
Submission to the authority of Christianity and the church is the most crucial aspect of their lifestyle. The Amish are devout Christians and follow a strict Christian belief system.
The Amish are often seen as mysterious and sheltered from the modern world.
The reason may be because they reject modern technology, but it may also be because of people's ignorance of their belief system.
Recently people have begun to understand and find interest in the Amish culture and way of life, which is an important change.
Amish traditions and lifestyle practices may seem unusual to some, but it all falls into their belief in a simple spiritual life.
In every community, leaders known as shepherds set the rules and traditions that their district will follow.
Depending on the shepherd that leads the district, the rules or traditions in the community may be more lenient or strict.
Most districts and churches in the Amish community follow the same basic rituals and traditions strictly. In most cases, the rules that are leniently enforced are not as fundamental.
Throughout the history of the Amish, Throughout the history of the Amish, different interpretations of the laws have caused rifts in the community.
These differences have caused different sub-communities to spawn in the Amish religion.
Amish Laws and Customs
Amish law is centered around the preservation of the Amish way of life and is designed to keep faith and tradition intact.
Old Order Amish are considered more strict and follow the rules of the Amish culture that have been laid out since the beginning.
The old-order Amish are the largest group and are noticeable with their strict dress code.
They forbid the use of buttons and zippers and will almost always wear dark black or brown clothing.
They regulate hairstyles and hair length among followers. Men have to grow beards that are a certain length and the rules for women's hair are even harsher.
Many Old Order Amish communities have strict rules for Amish women which don’t allow them to shave or get haircuts.
Old-order Amish communities and churches swear off almost all forms of modern technology, regardless of how helpful it can be.
New-order Amish communities are known to be more lenient and have been a recent development in the Amish religion.
New-order Amish communities have grown apart from the old Amish communities in the 20th century, embracing a new form of the Amish lifestyle.
The new-order Amish communities have a relaxed interpretation of the rules and even use certain types of modern technology.
Different colored clothing is allowed and men and women are allowed to trim their hair if they choose.
In these communities, small engines and low-tech machinery are allowed, and many businesses use them.
Often, those running businesses in these communities have cell phones to keep in contact with clients.
Because of their self-imposed isolation, many assume the Amish don't like outsiders. This isn’t true.
In many cases, it’s been shown that the Amish enjoy meeting outsiders as long as they’re respected.
Many Amish make their living or income through tourism, providing outsiders with an authentic look into their lives.
Communities often provide bed-and-breakfasts and tours throughout their towns and villages, where visitors can stay and live amongst them to experience the Amish lifestyle, Amish food, and Amish activities. All they ask is that you be thoughtful and considerate of their lifestyle and culture.
What Do the Amish Do?
The Amish may appear to live a sedated life to those outside the community, but they have many activities they enjoy doing.
The Amish live a simple Christian life filled with a sense of community, teamwork, and self-sufficiency.
Amish communities fill their time with work and church activities, farming, building, churchwork, and community events. These are all things they find fulfillment in.
What Do the Amish Do for Work?
Much of their time is spent staying busy with work, creating what they need themselves.
Basket weaving is a time-honored skill and a major source of revenue for the Amish.
Many Amish products are sought-after by people outside the community due to their high quality and the interest many people have in the Amish culture.
All Amish Baskets products are hand-made by Amish families who support themselves by selling them. Using their skills, they produce baskets with near-unparalleled attention to detail.
In addition to a guarantee of being hand-crafted with superb skill, products like the pie carrier or Amish dolls provide a unique glimpse into a rich, storied culture that is rarely given the respect and admiration it deserves.
When adding an authentic bread box or picnic basket to your home, you’re not just buying a conversation piece. You’re making an investment into your family’s legacy, and the wonderful memories you’ll have using these products as the Amish intended while adding function and beauty to your house.
What Do the Amish Do for Fun?
Many Amish families play games and have other fun community activities, they play scrabble, Uno, and other card games, etc.
Games of any kind that involve gambling are forbidden.
Sports are also enjoyed by all age groups. However, none of these is competitive, as competition is not encouraged in Amish culture. Instead, they focus entirely on teamwork and a sense of community.
How Do the Amish Travel and Use Utilities?
Without the use of cars, the main mode of transport in communities is by buggy and horse. Because of this, the Amish don’t rely on outside help for things such as transport, furniture, or utilities.
In terms of electricity and water which most cities provide, the Amish often find workarounds to provide for themselves. Using gas, solar power, generators, and batteries are all forms of energy the Amish use to run their communities.
Amish history may not be well known, but in recent years their culture and religion have piqued the interest of many, causing their communities to grow and spread across the U.S.
They’re deeply interesting folks, with as much respect for the world around them as we should have for them.
There are many ways to respect and honor their hard work and traditions, supporting Amish local business ventures being the most important.
Amish craftsmanship comes with years of quality and tradition that add value to their products and services.
Spending time among Amish communities and churches as visitors is a great way of showing interest and respect for the culture and their way of life.
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