The Amish are known for their conservative lifestyle, simple clothing, and rejection of modern technology. Here are seven little-known facts about their unique communities. Learn more about their history, culture, and way of life in this fascinating exploration of one of America’s most distinctive communities.
1. Pennsylvania Dutch is not Dutch at all.
That’s right, Pennsylvania Dutch has nothing to do with the Dutch. It’s actually a dialect of German, although it’s evolved so much over time that even if you’re fluent in German, you won’t understand everything that’s being said. Interestingly, English is used for more formal settings or when dealing with the outside world.
2. Not all Amish Refuse Technology.
Contrary to popular belief, the Amish do use technology—sparingly. Some Amish communities allow the use of gas-powered generators or cell phones for emergencies.
Generally speaking, though, all Amish communities typically avoid technology that would drastically disrupt their way of life or interfere with their beliefs.
3. Rumspringa is Not a Free for All.
Rumspringa is the Pennsylvania Dutch word for “running around,” where teens (usually 16) can experience the world. The crazy drinking, partying and sexual promiscuity seen on TV is the exception and not the rule.
In most cases, they don’t actually leave the home. They typically use the time to socialize more freely with their friends while dating to find a potential partner to marry.
4. When Your Out, You’re Out.
The Amish practice a form of shunning called “Meidung,” which involves cutting off contact with members who have violated the community’s rules or left the church.
It’s not always as harsh as complete isolation; it can mean not being allowed to eat at the same table or do business with church members. Meidung lasts until the “guilty” person decides to return to the church and confesses, showing a changed heart.
5. Their Relationship with Modern Medicine is Complicated.
The Amish primarily rely on natural and homeopathic remedies and believe in the power of faith and prayer to heal. However, they also recognize the benefits of modern medicine and seek medical treatment when necessary.
Each Amish community has a unique approach to modern medicine that balances values with needs. They may be hesitant to follow health standards, like yearly checkups, or use it more as a last resort.
6. You’re Probably Getting Married in Winter.
Amish weddings are usually held on Tuesdays or Thursdays in November or December. The weddings are simple affairs that take place in the bride’s family home or a nearby church, and the couple is not allowed to kiss in public or display any form of affection.
7. They Turn the Other Cheek.
This belief is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, who preached love and forgiveness. The Amish believe that violence and retaliation are contrary to these teachings.
They conscientiously object to military service and will not participate in any form of violence, including self-defense. Instead, they rely on peaceful means to resolve conflicts.