15+ Facts About the Amish That Will Surprise and Maybe Confuse You
The very first Amish community was formed in the 1720s in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As a community, they are very loving, family-oriented, humble and refuse to use modern amenities, such as electricity. Only in Lancaster, there are more than 30,000 Amish people and their numbers keep on increasing. One of their main beliefs is that community harmony should prevail instead of individualism and pride that are primary in the outside world.
- There’s a big family of Old Order Amish people living in the vicinity of Berne, Indiana that are believed to have a special gene. But it’s actually a mutation that is responsible for longevity. Thanks to this, they can live around 10% longer than most people, and in addition, have significantly fewer cases of diabetes.
- The Amish don’t have cars. But they can be passengers — for example, in cars, buses, trains, or in the cars of the neighbors that want to give them a ride. This doesn’t violate the traditions and allows them to reach places they wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise. Also, the Amish can hire people outside their community to transport them. But they don’t use planes because they think that they are too modern.
- The Amish don’t use bicycles. But a kind of transportation that is somewhere in between a scooter and a bicycle is very popular. These scooter-bikes are probably the second most popular mode of transportation after horse carts. There are a lot of young people that go to school using these and they’re actually called Amish scooters. There’s a special Amish-owned company that makes these scooters.
- When it comes to electricity, what’s considered taboo for Amish people is one of the public symbols of their separation from the world. This means they can’t use the radio, TV, or other appliances. But their traditions and reality are in conflict: electricity is banned, but autonomous generators are used.
- There are no strict rules about the Amish diet. So they’re okay with visiting Burger King, for instance. It really surprises other visitors when they park their horses in the parking lots.
- Young Amish couples can’t have intimate relations before getting married, but they are allowed to spend nights together if they remain fully clothed. Also, they place a thick board in the middle of the bed in order to prevent any type of contact. This happens so that they can get to know each other and see if they are a good match.
- Their education is terminated at the 8th grade. For that point on, young kids mode on to their preparation for adult life. Boys are being taught how the trade game is being played, while girls are learning all the house chores so they are ready to be housewives when they get married.
- Amish people go on vacation too. Specifically, they take trips to their local community in Lancaster, PA. The place is known as “Amish Las Vegas.”
- They like shopping at places where they sell dented products, like canned food for very little money.
- Rumspringa is the period of Amish life that starts in the teenage years and ends with a very important decision: to stay in the community or leave it. During this time, young people can have any life they want, go anywhere they want, and do many things that are prohibited within the community. There’s a 2002 documentary about this life period called Devil’s Playground. Also, there are a few reality shows that show what happens when Amish children go to big cities.
- If during Rumspringa, a young Amish person leads a lifestyle that violates the rules of the community, it doesn’t mean they can’t return. If a person decides to return and then leaves the community again, it’s only then that other Amish people will avoid them. If after Rumspringa, an Amish person stays in the world of technology and electricity, they might be avoided, even by those closest to them. It really depends on the community as to whether their parents will stop contacting them or not.
- Around 90 % of all Amish people return to their community after Rumspringa and join the church. The others start a regular modern life. For example, Kate Stoltz was one of the stars of the show Breaking Amish and left the community after the show. Today, Kate is a model, designer, and a TV star that lives in New York.
- The dolls that Amish children are allowed to play with don’t have any facial features. Any dolls with eyes, ears, or mouths are prohibited. This superstition derives from the fact that “all people are alike.”
The largest number of Amish are in Pennsylvania. At the moment, there are more than 200 covered bridges, and in the 1800s, there were around 1,500. Lancaster County is especially famous for these bridges — there are 29 of them and there are special tours for people outside of the Amish community.
The Amish built covered bridges because, around 2 centuries ago, wood was fairly cheap, and it was used for construction. The building process was pretty expensive, so there were roofs built to protect the bridges from rain and extend their life.
Ordnung, which is the name of the set of rules for the Amish, prohibits jewelry. This is why they don’t wear wedding rings.
Amish women don’t cut their hair. They regularly put it into a bun and wear a bonnet, because hair can’t be a source of pride.
Would you ever consider entering such a community? What do you think would be harder for you to get used to, the lack of electricity or not being able to drive?