The Amish are a fascinating and enigmatic group, known for their rejection of modern technology, adherence to traditional customs, and tight-knit communities. With their distinctive clothing, horse-drawn buggies, and focus on self-sufficiency, the Amish have captured the imaginations of many outsiders. However, there is much more to Amish culture than meets the eye.
From their emphasis on nonviolence and pacifism to their complex rules around dress and behavior, the Amish have a rich and unique culture that is often shrouded in mystery. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at 40 little-known and unusual beliefs, rituals, and customs of the Amish, as well as some of the controversies and criticisms that have been raised around this fascinating group.
The Practice Of Shunning – In Amish society, shunning is a form of social exclusion that is used to enforce community norms and maintain order. Shunning can occur for a variety of reasons but typically involves violations of the Ordnung (the Amish code of conduct) or refusing to repent for sins or wrongdoing. Shunning is a serious punishment in the Amish community and can have significant social and emotional consequences for the person being shunned. However, it is also seen as a necessary means of maintaining the community’s values and way of life.
Here are some of the ways someone in the Amish society can be shunned:
Violating the Ordnung: The Ordnung is the set of rules and guidelines that govern Amish life, from clothing and hairstyles to technology use and farming practices. Violating these rules can lead to shunning and other forms of social exclusion. Here are some specific examples of ways that someone in the Amish community could violate the Ordnung:
Clothing: The Ordnung dictates specific clothing styles for Amish men and women. Women are expected to wear long dresses, aprons, and head coverings, while men wear plain shirts and pants with suspenders. If someone were to wear clothing that is too colorful, too revealing, or too modern, they would be violating the Ordnung.
Technology: The Amish community is known for its rejection of modern technology. They eschew electricity, telephones, and automobiles in favor of more traditional modes of living. If someone were to use any of these technologies, they would be violating the Ordnung. For example, using a cell phone, driving a car, or having electricity in their home would be considered violations.
Social behavior: The Amish community values simplicity, humility, and obedience to authority. If someone were to behave in a way that was too flashy, too proud, or too rebellious, they would be violating the Ordnung. For example, engaging in public displays of affection, refusing to listen to church leaders, or flaunting wealth or status would be considered violations.
Work and agriculture: The Amish community places a strong emphasis on hard work, self-sufficiency, and agricultural living. If someone were to refuse to work, use modern farming equipment, or engage in other forms of laziness or idleness, they would be violating the Ordnung.
Marriage and family: The Amish community has strict rules about courtship, marriage, and family life. If someone were to engage in premarital sex, divorce their spouse, or engage in any other behavior that is seen as deviant or immoral, they would be violating the Ordnung.
Education: The Amish community places a strong emphasis on education, but they prefer traditional forms of schooling that prioritize religious instruction and practical skills. If someone were to attend a public school, pursue higher education, or engage in any other form of education that is seen as too secular or modern, they would be violating the Ordnung.
Worship: The Amish community has specific rules about worship and religious practice. If someone were to skip church, refuse to participate in religious services or rituals, or engage in any other behavior that is seen as disrespectful to God or the church, they would be violating the Ordnung.
Health and medicine: The Amish community has their own traditional remedies and treatments for illnesses, and they generally avoid modern medicine and healthcare. If someone were to seek medical treatment from a doctor or hospital, take prescription medication, or engage in any other form of modern healthcare, they would be violating the Ordnung.
Leisure activities: The Amish community values simplicity and humility in all aspects of life, including leisure activities. If someone were to engage in leisure activities that are seen as too worldly or too indulgent, they would be violating the Ordnung. For example, going to movies, listening to popular music, or playing video games would be considered violations.
Language: The Amish community typically speaks a dialect of German known as Pennsylvania Dutch. If someone were to speak English or any other language that is not Pennsylvania Dutch, they would be violating the Ordnung.
Modesty: The Amish community values modesty in dress and behavior. If someone were to behave in a way that is too showy or attention-seeking, they would be violating the Ordnung. For example, wearing jewelry, makeup, or flashy clothing would be considered violations.
Financial matters: The Amish community values simplicity and frugality in all aspects of life, including finances. If someone were to engage in behavior that is seen as too materialistic or too extravagant, they would be violating the Ordnung. For example, buying a luxury car, owning expensive jewelry, or taking out loans or credit would be considered violations.
Refusing to repent: If someone commits a sin or wrongdoing and refuses to repent, they may be shunned. This could include behaviors such as lying, stealing, or adultery.
Other violations: There could be other ways that someone in the Amish community could violate the Ordnung depending on the specific community and its interpretation of the rules. It’s important to note that the Ordnung is not a static set of rules and can evolve over time as the community changes and adapts to new circumstances. Additionally, some rules may be enforced more strictly in some communities than in others. Here are some more interesting facts about Amish life
Rumspringa: is a period of adolescence in Amish culture where young people are given a degree of freedom to explore the outside world before they are expected to commit to the Amish way of life. It is a time of transition and self-discovery, and it typically begins around the age of 16 and ends when the individual either chooses to join the Amish church or leave the community entirely.
During Rumspringa: young people are allowed to participate in activities that are typically forbidden in Amish culture, such as attending parties, dating non-Amish people, using modern technology, and dressing in non-traditional clothing. However, the specifics of Rumspringa can vary from community to community, and some groups may be more permissive than others.
The term “Rumspringa”: is derived from a Pennsylvania Dutch term that means “running around,” which reflects the freedom and independence that young people experience during this time. While Rumspringa is often portrayed in popular culture as a time of wild partying and rebellion, it is more commonly a time of exploration and self-discovery for young Amish people.
At the end of Rumspringa: individuals are expected to make a choice about whether they will commit to the Amish church and way of life or leave the community and the culture behind. While some young people choose to leave the Amish community during this time, the majority ultimately decide to remain in the community and become full members of the church.
3.Bundling – Bundling was once a common practice within Amish courtship, where unmarried couples would sleep together in the same bed fully clothed. Now It Has Fallen Out Of Practice – However, this practice has largely fallen out of use in modern times, as it has been viewed as an inappropriate and potentially sexually suggestive behavior.
Split Church – During worship, men and women within the Amish community sit separately, often on two separate benches. This practice is seen as a way to emphasize the differences between the genders and to maintain traditional gender roles.
Dutch is Their Primary Language – Pennsylvania German, also known as “Dutch,” is a primary language within many Amish communities. This language is descended from the German spoken by immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania in the 18th century. English is often limited in these communities, and the use of Pennsylvania German is seen as a way to preserve cultural identity.
Pleasure Buggies – Pleasure buggies or courting buggies are often used by young Amish couples to spend time together and pursue courtship. These buggies may be decorated and customized to reflect the couple’s personality.
Rejection of Modern Medicine – Using Natural Remedies. The Amish often use natural remedies and homeopathy for medical treatment, and they may reject modern medicine and doctors. This approach is seen as a way to maintain self-sufficiency and to avoid the pitfalls of modern healthcare.
Miedung – The Avoidance Of Sinful Or Dangerous Activites. Meidung is the practice of avoiding certain behaviors or activities that are seen as sinful or dangerous. These may include smoking, drinking alcohol, using drugs, and engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage. Meidung is enforced through community pressure, and individuals who violate these rules may be subject to shunning.
The Practice Of “Frolics” – Community-based events, such as quilting bees and canning parties, are a key part of Amish life. These events allow community members to work together on tasks and to build relationships with one another.
Barn Raising – Building Projects. Barn raising and other community-based building projects are common within the Amish community. These events bring community members together to help with construction projects and to share in the work and the rewards.
Thrashing Parties – The Amish place a strong emphasis on hard work and self-sufficiency, and they believe in the importance of working together for the common good. Community-based events, such as thrashing parties, quilting bees, and canning events, are seen as a way to build community and accomplish tasks more efficiently.
Rejecting Materialism – The Amish reject materialism and consumer culture, and they emphasize the importance of humility and simplicity. This means that they often lead frugal lives and may engage in practices such as food storage and emergency preparedness.
“Kapps” To Identify Women – Married women within the Amish community wear kapps, or white head coverings, as a symbol of their marital status. Unmarried women wear black kapps. This practice is seen as a way to emphasize the importance of marriage and family.
Lack Of Racial Diversity – The Amish community is not known for its racial diversity, and some individuals have reported experiencing racism and prejudice within Amish communities. While some Amish leaders have spoken out against racism and discrimination, others have been criticized for their lack of action on these issues.
No Government Assistance – The Amish place a strong emphasis on hard work and self-sufficiency, and they may reject welfare and government assistance. This means that they often rely on their own resources and may engage in practices such as bartering and trading.
Only Using Hand Tools – The Amish place a strong emphasis on handcrafted goods and traditional methods of craftsmanship. Many Amish communities have thriving woodworking and furniture-making industries, and these products are often sold to the wider public.
Large Families – Family is at the heart of Amish life, and the community places a strong emphasis on intergenerational living arrangements and large families. Amish families often live and work together on farms and other projects.
Dawdling – Enjoying And Appreciating The Present Moment. The Amish practice dawdling, which means taking the time to appreciate and enjoy the present moment. This practice is seen as a way to build relationships and to savor the simple pleasures of life.
Using Animal Labor – Which Is Often Mistaken As Animal Cruelty. The Amish rely heavily on animal labor for farming and transportation, which has led to concerns about animal welfare and cruelty. While the Amish generally treat their animals with respect and care, there have been reports of mistreatment and abuse.
Silence And Contemplation – The Amish reject noise pollution and other forms of environmental degradation, and they place a strong emphasis on silence and contemplation. This means that they often live in rural areas and may engage in practices such as meditation and prayer.
No Women’s Rights – The Amish have faced criticism for their views on women’s rights, with some arguing that traditional gender roles within the community are sexist and oppressive. Women are often expected to prioritize their roles as wives and mothers over other pursuits, and they may have limited opportunities for education and career advancement.
Using Horse-Drawn Buggies – The Amish reject many modern technologies, including automobiles and electricity. They rely on horse-drawn buggies and other traditional forms of transportation, as well as non-electric tools and appliances. This emphasis on simplicity and self-sufficiency is seen as a way to resist the temptations of materialism and consumer culture.
Working Together – Community is at the heart of Amish life, and the Amish believe in the importance of working together for the common good. This belief is reflected in the emphasis on barn raisings and other community-based events, where members come together to help with building projects, farming, and other tasks.