You've probably heard about the Amish, and if you live in Pennsylvania or the midwest, you may have even seen them now and again. But the truth is that few people really know a whole lot about this mysterious group of people who happily live throughout the United States. Within their own communities, they have shunned technology and, although friendly people, generally shut themselves from the rest of the world. This has caused them to create a whole new set of norms and traditions which are as interesting as they are mysterious and strange. From their wedding traditions to their thoughts on modern medicine, we are taking you on a deep dive into the Amish lifestyle.
Many people often think that Amish people use zero electricity, but that is not always the case. While they do shun technology, there are occasions when electricity is used, including in times of emergency. There is a particular reason why they don't allow technology, and it goes back to their strong belief in God. The reason they follow this practice is because of "Gelassenheit," which is a German word meaning the community should use the earth as God intended. Some Amish communities allow people to have landline phones in their barns because it is a necessity, but it cannot be used in their homes.
If you look at all the pictures of Amish men, you will probably notice that they typically have a long beard, but a clean-shaven face. This tradition dates back to the 1800s when mustaches were seen as a symbol of wealth or for people who were in the armed forces, but that goes against the Amish beliefs. The Amish believe that they should look how God intended, so they don't cut their beards. They decided to shave their mustaches because they didn't like what it symbolized and how it was a fashion trend at the time. Sometimes you can see men with shorter beards, but they usually allow them to grow long.
There is a tradition among Amish people that dates back to when they first settled in the United States. They call all non-Amish people English regardless of race or ethnicity. They started this because they had no word to refer to outsiders since they considered themselves Americans just like everyone else. They started calling outsiders English because that was the language their "outsider" neighbors spoke, and it stuck throughout time. Things don't typically change in Amish society when it comes to tradition, so to this day, they still call outsiders "English people."
While many people assume Amish teens don't get to have fun like regular teenagers, that is false. The elders in the Amish community understand that teens will rebel, so they allow them to experience the outside world before adulthood. They cannot be punished for anything they do or experience outside the Amish world during this time. Between the ages of 14 and 18, Amish teens have the right to leave the community and experience the outside world. You might have seen this on the TLC show, Breaking Amish. The show followed five Amish teens who left the Amish world to see what big cities and technology were like before they became adults.
When teens want to leave the community, it is part of a right of passage called "Rumspringa," which is derived from German meaning "running around." This period of time can last for a week, or even a few years. However, the time frame is not that important to the Amish people. By allowing teens to explore the outside world, they hope it will encourage them to return once they have had enough. This willingness to return and accept the Amish way of life is what allows them to be entirely accepted into the community as an adult. This period enables teens to realize that the "English" way of life is not for them.
After teens have returned from their Rumspringa, they can officially be baptized and accepted as a member of the Amish community. There is no cutoff age for baptisms because the Rumspringa can last many years, or until they realize the outside world is not for them. People are always welcome to return to the community. For many teenagers, leaving the community and experiencing the "English world" is a huge shock. They have never been around that much technology, and they are not used to the norms of our world. This makes them crave the simplicity of their communities, and they end up returning rather quickly. In other cases, these teens never return because they enjoy the outside world more.
You will not find anyone in the Amish community with an Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter account. They do not use electricity or technology, so they don't even take pictures of each other. In fact, they don't even allow paintings of people, which involves zero electricity, so why is it banned? In the Amish world, it is strictly forbidden for someone to own images of people, whether it is of their family or themselves. When a member of the Amish community dies, there are no images to remember them by, so people only have their memories. Pictures of people are seen as graven images.
When you decide to date someone, the Amish believe that your partner must have the same faith. They think that this leads to a successful marriage. Before you can even start dating, you must be baptized into the Amish church along with your partner. In Amish society, a couple must have all their dates in a public space so that nothing can happen intimately before marriage. Also, these are not arranged marriages. They believe you can marry whomever you like as long as they are also in the Amish community and share the same beliefs.
After you get approval from the church and you have your lengthy ceremony, you can finally celebrate being a married couple in Amish society. To begin the honeymoon, the newlywed couple will spend their first night at the bride's parents' home. It may seem odd, but this is their tradition. The morning after, the couple traditionally cleans the house as a sign of gratitude. The couple will then move onto other relatives and bounce around between houses. After this process, the newlyweds are allowed to spend their first night entirely alone.
After women leave school, they start to learn how to sew, cook, keep a house, and tend to their families. This is because Amish women are meant to be housewives; that is their role in the Amish society. They are made to take care of the children like glorified babysitters. Amish women have no right to become leaders in their communities, and they cannot make decisions for themselves. While this may be sad to most people, for them, it is all they know. Once they are married, their husbands have total control, and they are there to serve and oversee the daily house chores.