10 Amish Ways of Life that May Surprise You

Jakob Ammann,  leader and namesake of the Amish religious movement
Jakob Ammann, leader and namesake of the Amish religious movement | Source

The Amish are a group of people who live in North America and adhere to a strict set of rules by which they live. Their philosophy is based on the bible and steeped in tradition. All Amish people can be traced back to one religious group led by Jakob Ammann in Switzerland in 1693. Those who followed Ammann became known as Amish. Because of an

Here are some traditions that may surprise you:


1. Sleeping together on the first date is practiced in some Amish groups. This means that the couple sleeps together in the same bed all night. Following the Amish rules, known as Ordnung, the young couple is to lie beside each other for the duration of the night. With other Amish groups the night might be spent with the couple sitting in a rocking chair, with the young woman sitting on the young man’s lap. These practices are not adhered to by all Amish groups, just some. In other Amish groups, dating involves the couple simply spending time with one another at the girl’s home and getting to know one another. In this type of date, the young man would leave at around midnight and another date might take place in two weeks. The Amish date every other week on Sunday evenings after church.

2. Having healthy teeth pulled

Keeping in mind that the Amish don’t believe in medical insurance, when a tooth gives an Amish person trouble it is not uncommon in some Amish groups to have the tooth pulled and even to have all the teeth pulled and get dentures since this is more cost effective than tending to each tooth.

3. Amish people do not believe in insurance, they believe that this would go against a belief in God’s will or Gottes Wille. They do not have health insurance or any other kind of insurance; instead, if a family finds itself in dire need of financing for a medical bill or legal issue, the community chips in to support one another.


4. Amish people continue to use a horse and buggy, but the dangers of riding in a horse drawn buggy are great. Buggy accidents are common. If you consider a collision between a horse drawn buggy and a modern automobile, you have a recipe for disaster. Automobiles are heavier and travel faster, while buggies are lighter and are slower. Climbing into a buggy which travels on the same road with an automobile, brings a huge risk for all involved with the greatest danger being for the Amish passengers. Some modern communities, which have large populations of Amish, have tried to have their roads expanded to accommodate both cars and buggies yet because of the great expense the idea remains on the drawing table. To create a greater degree of safety, some Amish communities have added reflective triangles and or lights, while others refuse to make any accommodations. The Swatzenburger and Old Order Amish are two conservative groups that adhere to their tradition and to a belief in Gottes Wille. It is heart breaking to hear of anyone, especially a baby, simply being thrown from a buggy due to a collision with an automobile and lack of basic preventative measures.

5. No smoke alarms! When it was required that homes in the U.S. install smoke alarms the Amish refused, again stating if that it is Gottes Wille that there will be a fire, there is nothing that can be done. Some Amish communities have fought legal battles to protect their right to refuse the use of a smoke alarms.

The Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible
The Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible | Source

6. An unquestionable belief in the bible. The Amish do not believe in questioning things, instead they are taught to accept the word of the Bible as the literal word of God. Amish churches use a Bible which is written in High German or Hoch Deitsch, a language that most do not speak or understand. Some Amish groups allow for an English Bible to be read, though this differs from group to group. The Amish are taught not to question things but to follow the rules. Adhering to the teachings of the bible is the basis of Amish life.

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The largest population of Amish live in Holmes, Ohio with 49,750 residents. Source: Donald Kraybill

7. Although the Amish originated in Europe there are no Amish living there today. All of the Amish alive today reside in the U.S. or in Canada.

8. Amish people do not have birth certificates or social security cards. This is because Amish babies are born at home and within the Amish community so they see no need for either of these documents. When an Amish member chooses to leave their Amish community and live in the modern world, individuals are met with a great challenge since they have no proof of citizenship, no way to get a legal job or a driver’s license. Former Amish then, are left with few options other than being relegated to menial, low paying illegal work for which they receive no benefits.

9. The Amish are not allowed to complete more than an 8th grade education. The Amish feel that this level of education is sufficient for the needs of their way of life. Some Amish are driven to pursue higher education and this is a motivator for them to leave. However, if an Amish person decides to leave, having only an eighth grade education is yet another handicap to seeking meaningful employment in the outside world.

10. The Amish population is on the increase, the Amish population has doubled in the last 20 years and while some Amish members do manage to leave and enter the modern world a great many return. Amish communities exist in 18 U.S. states as well as in Canada.

© 2012 Tracy Lynn Conway

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Comments 36 comments

Teylina profile image

Teylina 4 years ago

Tracy, great hub! My former in-laws lived in the middle of Amish country in Pennsylvania (near Lancaster), and I met two couples who had been married for many years but had left the Amish way of life. Learned a lot from them, and, when they would occasionally speak at the grocers' you could learn a lot by observance and asking simple questions. As a "private" people, I was always thrilled to just get a returning smile! There are quite a few Amish areas elsewhere--TN, middle states, and you did a good job of pointing out their differences. Buggy accidents are critical, but their right.

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Teylina - That is so interesting to hear how much you have learned from your numerous interactions with Amish and former Amish people. Yes, they are private people and buggy accidents are an awful reality. Thank your for sharing your personal experience and I am thrilled that you enjoyed the hub.

Best, Tracy

Teylina profile image

Teylina 4 years ago

It was a really great hub, and I learned a lot! Will have to share a most beautiful scene from those days. My husband and I were trying to make time (haha) through heavy snowflakes and inches already piled to get to his mother's during Xmas season years ago. We passed a relatively small, wooden, well-constructed Amish store with about a dozen buggies (all enclosed) reigned in and several people talking on the porch. But when I turned forward again, an open buggy was coming our way, and with the "city" lights hitting huge snowflakes as they trotted toward us we could see the young unmarried couple looking up and at each other and laughing big-time while she occasionally tried to snag a flake w/her tongue. They were having such a good time; with that particular group we knew all unmarried couples had to use open buggies. As cold as it was, my husband said, "that looks like something out of picture; they're probably warmer than we are with all those robes." The Amish are rarely seen having fun, and it was a great sight to remember. You've done some great research; I haven't, so it was a really good hub-- and brought back a good memory! Thank you so much!

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida

Thank you for sharing this information. Some of it i was aware of as I lived in PA with my sister for a while and we would travel to Lancaster County. We often encountered Amish families traveling in their buggies. O my.

I have great respect for those who choose to continue to adhere to their beliefs. It certainly requires, from the outside looking in, a rigid adherence to rules.

I have read however of shunning which of course if part of the religion as well. I understand the premise of shunning but think it must be very difficult for those involved.

It is not my place to judge the choices others make. We should practice our religion as we are guided to do.

Again thanks for sharing this.

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Teylina - What a beautiful moment to have witnessed, priceless really. I think you are right, the Amish couple were warmer in that moment than you were. Thank you for sharing this!

pstraubie48- Looking at how others live is a great opportunity to consider how we choose to live our lives or to even consider that we have options, we don't necessarily have to follow a life we were born into. I think you are right, the shunning is difficult for all of those involved, but the purpose is to keep the the family and community together. Encountering Amish families as you have must have been interesting but at the same time the Amish are not interested in the outside world.

Best, Tracy

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

Thanks for these fascinating facts. It was a very fun read. What surprised me the most is # 10. I always assumed their population might have dwindled in this modern world. Obviously, I was wrong. Although I can't imagine myself living the way they do, I also find there are some admirable things about them. Their strong sense of community, for example, is quite notable.

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Om Paramapoonya - You make a good point, it might seem that a culture that is so different from the mainstream might dwindle and this has happened to the Shakers, however, in the case of the Amish, the population is thriving. Also, greater numbers of Amish are choosing to join the church than ever before, estimates are at 90%. I think this is in part what makes an interest in their way of life even more intriguing. I agree that it is so hard to imagine living this kind of life but on the other hand we see a lot of trends that emulate their way of life such as buying food locally, eating whole foods and trying to have a small carbon footprint etc. I am so glad you enjoyed the hub!

Best, Tracy

LaThing profile image

LaThing 4 years ago from From a World Within, USA

Really enjoyed reading your hub. I have always been fascinated by the Amish culture, and your hub pointed some more things that I was unaware of. I am surprised by the first date thing, wow! Live and learn...

Thanks for the info. Voting up.....

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

LaThing - The way in which some of the Amish conduct their first dates does seem to go so far against the puritanical conventions that I have always thought to be traditional; it does make you think. The Amish culture is fascinating, the ability to look at this culture, as though we are traveling back in time feels like having a window to the past. Yes, "live and learn." Thanks for the comment and the vote.

Best, Tracy

G9 3 years ago

They are nutts!

Michele Travis profile image

Michele Travis 3 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

. I live in Ohio, but pretty far away from them. So learning about the Amish is very interesting. Thank you for writing this hub.

Voted up.

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 3 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Michele - The Amish way of life is far different from our modern way and with that brings quite a set of intriguing behaviors and practices. I am glad you found it interesting.

Best, Tracy

Sheri Faye profile image

Sheri Faye 3 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

That was interesting. I sometimes think a simple life like that would be peaceful.

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 3 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Sheri - I think you are right and there are trade-offs to both the Amish and modern way of life, but the Amish lifestyle certainly wins out as more peaceful and certainly far more attuned to nature. With magazines like "Simple Living" and a growing interest in home gardening we can see many people are drawn to aspects of the Amish way of life that the Amish themselves have never strayed from.

Best, Tracy

Jlrmcb 2 years ago

Being a labor room nurse I can tell you that Amish people do come and have their baby in the hospital and do get both certificates. I live in PA.

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 2 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Hi Jlrmcb, Thank you for sharing your first hand information. However most Amish births take place in the home, in which case they will not receive a birth certificate.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma

There are quite a few Amish in the Elkhart IN area, where one of my daughters lived for several years. Once on my way to Michigan from Elkhart on a two-lane highway I nearly wrecked the car laughing at the scene in the lawn in front of an Amish barn. Parked in the grass were two buggies, one slightly larger than the other, with a sheet of plywood propped upright against both on which was painted "Low mileage".

Alas, I was late for a lunch date and didn't have time to stop to snap a photo. From observing the Amish customers at the local Walmart on visits to the daughter, however, I tend to think the sign was meant both as a statement of fact AND as an extremely good attempt at secular humor! ;D

baybpnk profile image

baybpnk 2 years ago from Michigan (the Mitten), United States

I went to University in Big Rapids, MI, where I saw Amish people for the first time in my life who actually lived that way of life. Since then, I have been curious about them and exactly what their different (from mine) way of life was. I saw them all the time in their horse drawn carriages driving down the road going to Walmart. I assumed they did not travel to Walmart very often, wondered what they bought there, and wondered if they did certain things outside of the norm for the Amish and that was why they went to Walmart. I liked seeing them around, but was not sure how they would react to someone walking up to them and asking them honest questions. Anyone would think that was weird of someone to do. Now that I think about it, I would have loved to ask them questions and get a peek into their lifestyle that way. I could have written a nice paper about it (I majored in English and have a Bachelor Degree) and learned a lot as well. I would have been all for it if they would have been. Missed opportunities.

Thanks for the great hub! It was nice to learn a little bit more about the Amish.

theomajor profile image

theomajor 2 years ago from New Zealand

It is beautiful to see how some people defy the modern way and adhere to some key principles of God's way. Faith is critical to avoiding insurance, a form of usury. It appears that those dating rituals may relate back to the original gospel; Ruth.

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 2 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Jama Genee,

What a great funny story! Just thinking of the time it would take to run a basic errand in a buggy is hard but the flip side is that life was meant to be savored not rushed through. Thanks for a great comment!

Best, Tracy

Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 2 years ago from Virginia, USA Author


Great name, btw! The Amish are intriguing; they live side by side with a modern culture but hold on to what they believe in. For most of their history they were either persecuted or not respected either for their religious beliefs or for their way of life, which go hand in hand. They have gained more respect now that modern society seeks ways to live "greener" and have a smaller carbon footprint. You are not the only curious one; the Amish tourist industry is big! It would have been nice to befriend an Amish person but this is perhaps easier said than done, they are typically hesitant to relate with outsiders.

Thanks for a great comment!

Best, Tracy

celafoe profile image

celafoe 2 years ago from Planet earth. between the oceans

Some of the amish are some of the most hypocritcal people I have ever met. The will not own a car but will pay to go anywhere with you in yours or in the back of a truck. They will not have a telephone but will drop money in a pay phone all day. And many have a cell phone -- kept in the outhouse. Some will use a diesel engine to perform work for them but not a gasoline. Some groups are far different than others, some quite liberal and some extremely conservative. But if you are going to stand for something stand for it and if not don't say you are and sneak around it. If they are looking your way and talking in swiss or german they are probably making fun of you. having been around several different groups of them I have little respect for them

JulieMProvost profile image

JulieMProvost 2 years ago from Tennessee

Very interesting! I didn't realize there were no Amish in Europe. We live right by a lot of Amish communities. I find their lives really interesting.

joedolphin88 profile image

joedolphin88 2 years ago from north miami FL

Wow the Amish are certainly interesting people.

Hankscita profile image

Hankscita 2 years ago from Florida

Really great Hub. I have family in Ohio, but know very little about the Amish. Great information

Michelle Ascani profile image

Michelle Ascani 2 years ago from Deep in the Heart of Texas

I must say that I admire a number of their ways in dependence upon the Lord, but I do not agree with the fact that they do not reach out to others in a missionary capacity. This is the great command that Jesus left us with. It is so important to share and explain your faith to others so they can see why your heart believes what it does.

Lisa 2 years ago

Just a quick comment: I actually think that the language is called Hoch Deutsch instead of Deitch, isn't it? That would be the correct word for German ;)

Ari VK 2 years ago

I live in Indiana surrounded by Amish (Dutch & Swiss), German Baptists, and Old Order Mennonites. As someone who has had three babies at home with a midwife- it is not difficult to get a birth certificate from the Health Department. It is almost shockingly easy. All Amish I know have birth certificates.

Many also work high paying jobs (labor jobs, factory type or construction) because it is difficult to farm for a living. Others have seasonal green houses to bring in income. There are good documentaries out now that show the struggle some Amish have with making good money while working away from home. Their goal is to stay home, yet well paid work pulls them away from farming for a living.

All Amish churches are a bit different, in that they can vote as a church to start doing something or stop doing something. This is why you will see some with lights on their buggies and others not, or some women only wearing black and blue and others wearing pink and purple.

Thanks for sharing more information on the Amish! I enjoy being their neighbor.

pocono foothills profile image

pocono foothills 2 years ago from Easton, Pennsylvania

Nice Hub. Lancaster Pa is only a short ride from where I live, so we frequently drive over there to indulge in some Amish cuisine. I did not know that there were no Amish people in Europe anymore. Very interesting fact. Thanks.

Hendrika profile image

Hendrika 2 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

Very interesting. I wish I know more about their believe in the Bible. What can be considered literal? There are many seemingly "inconsistencies" in the Bible that has to be taken in context. Do they do that, or how do the handle it?

Penny G profile image

Penny G 2 years ago from Southern Iowa

I lived among the Amish for 19 years. Each group has different rules and ways. I got very close to them women, they are my friends. My daughter also worked with their Midwives. The babies born at home DO have both certificates, as many of them travel to Canada and they now require they have on. No social serucity card ever. Theyalso do not accept any government help. A common belief among the critical is they pay no taxes. This is not true. They pay sales tax and property tax. Also on the date where they spend the night together, they "BUNDLE" which is wrapped and sometimes sewn together in a blanket all night. I have had many a heart to heart talk with these women, [against the elders rules}! and I asked isn't that a temptation to these young people. The answer was they know what they are not to be doing., Subject closed. OUr group considered Old Order could not ride in a car unless it is to a Doctor appointment. I have takent them to many. If you are stoping at the store, Walmart, restaurant they may go in but cannot ask to stop. They use a lot of herbal remedies and chiropractors , before they will go to the Doctor. As for the dentist, they have acquired dental tools and yes numbing stuff and pull their own peoples teeth. HUSH HUSH STUFF . THey have an Amish magazine which they publish if someone needs Medical care money, and they have card showers. People from all over send $1.00 it adds up. THey will accept private help if the hospital offers it from donations/ inheritance to the hospital. The dating works the same, and everyone knows its going on but is to be kept a secret until the marrige plans are published.Ours do not go past 8th grade, but let me tell you what they learn in those 8 years is amazing. Very sharp math skills and reading ability. I used their books to home school my children. I was so surprised. They don't allow their pictures taken, but really don't hide from it either anymore. We have had three buggy accidents ain our area. One fatal. If you have ever wittnessed it it would break your heart. Even with signs that say share the road, with a buggy on it people are just too busy. On the other hand I have seem my froends riding along alseep at the reins and the horses know their way without a driver. They do get rebellious horses at times, and skid dish as well. My home is full of their wonderful items they sell . I have ceiling high book shelves, night stands, baskets, food, jelly and jams, quilt items. They do make a good living. They are frugal. They live very modestly to later, with cash many times building a nice home. They live in what we call morton building type buldings at first on their parents property. If and it usually doesn't happen they marry before 21, the parents must be pai. Why because sadly they young people make money for the parents, running stands, they watch the other children, sew ect. The men enjoy lots of travel and much more freedom. They attend lots of auctions in far away places. The families do travel as well. Women do travel to family and special clinics at times, usually at naturalist type. They always take the bus, plans are not allowed. They do hire drivers many times as well. They call us the Engligh. They women are not to wear bras or panties. THey us bindings, or a diaper like fabric pinned. Buttons are not allowed, the women safety pin their dress fronts. The men have zippers and hook and eye closers. I have gotten in trouble with the elders for sharing too much with the women, or giving them convienances they are not allowed to have. I invited the mothers and children to a birthday party in town once. We lived in the country but had an Herb shop in town. So we had it in town. THey were shunned for it. GRRRRR all we had was cake and ice cream, hot dogs and chips which they eat. We played a cotton ball game. So simple. I used the word party, not allowed word. If I had called it a frolic, or gathering it would have been OK! I have have had dinner with many of them, bring all the ingredients for home made Pizza in the wood stove.YUM! Ice cream afterwards. They came from all over! I made 14 Pizzas. I have spent many a night at the hospital with them, and their children. I have made many an emergency trips to get them help. They are people with the same desires and cares of us, they just don't show a lot. That is a glimpse of my life with the Amish.

rtcomics profile image

rtcomics 23 months ago from Laurelville, Ohio

Great Hub! I live in an area where there are Amish. I have never gotten into any conversations with them, but I find their lifestyle quite interesting and I appreciate their fervor in following the Word.

jlpark profile image

jlpark 23 months ago from New Zealand

Interesting hub.

Not sure we have Amish in NZ, but I do know of a group (a large group at that) that live similarly (except for the shunning of modern technology - in that they have a website, but most don't use the internet), that recently had a documentary screened about them.

As a person without a belief in any Gods, I may not agree with their religious beliefs, but I respect them in their strength of faith/conviction.

Thanks for sharing this hub

Theresa Franklin profile image

Theresa Franklin 23 months ago from Hemphill, TX

Very interesting article. I didn't know some of these. The one that surprised me was sleeping together on the first date. Never would have thought that. What is the purpose?

Ronel Wakeford88 22 months ago

I love the way the Amish firmly stand on not questioning the bible. That is a very good moral. I think all people should stop questioning the bible and follow God's word as is...but by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost of course.

Nik Cole profile image

Nik Cole 21 months ago

Even though their life style is not normal in our society. They teach their boys how to be real men and girls how to be women! I am a believer of the word of God, that's on point for me. I just don't think I could survive without electricity lol. Good article!

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