10 Amish Ways of Life that May Surprise You
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.
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.
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.
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© 2012 Tracy Lynn Conway