Many Amish people settled in Pennsylvania during the 18th century, but they’ve since moved to other places across the U.S. and Canada, including Ohio, Indiana, and New York.
Yet even though they’ve been around for so long, those of us who live outside of their communities don’t know that much about them. This may be due to the fact that only a very small percentage of Amish people leave their faith for the modernized world. Otherwise, the ins and outs of their lives often stay within the confines of their communities.
To start, the word “Amish” does not refer to a race. Rather, it refers to a traditionalist Christian fellowship that does away with most modern technologies.
In some parts of the country, you might even see them riding in their horse-drawn buggies as you speed by in your minivan.
So, what might you not already know about these fine folks? These 10 things are sure to give you a better perspective on the over 300,000 Amish that populate North America.
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Thumbnail sources: Flickr, Wikimedia Commons
1. Amish People Do Speak Amish
Amish is an actual language that is derived from German, and may possibly include some Portuguese and Spanish. The dialect is referred to as Low German, Pennsylvania Dutch, or Amish.
2. They Don't Go To High School
After completing the eighth grade, the Amish go directly into their lifetime vocations, which could mean anything from knitting to farming, carpentry, and everything in between — as long as it fits in with their lifestyle. Their schoolhouses are usually one room, and lessons are taught by an unmarried young woman.
3. They Get Baptized At An Older Age
Amish get baptized into their church between the ages of 16 and 25. This is interesting when compared with other forms of Christianity, where it is ultimately the parents’ decision to baptize their baby. Amish people decide on their own whether or not they would like to get baptized into the church, or to leave.
4. Leaving The Church Comes At A Cost
Choosing to leave the Amish church means that you will most likely lose all contact with your family, as you’ll be excommunicated and shunned. However, about 90 percent of Amish teens decide to stay with the church.
5. It's A Requirement To Question The Faith
Rumspringa, which translates to “running around,” is a time for Amish adolescents to see what it’s like outside the confines of their communities. Some will only make small adjustments, like wearing their hair like the “English” do, or donning American or Canadian streetwear.
However, other teens make their way out into the city or surrounding towns, to experiment with far more than just wearing modern clothes and hairstyles.
6. Not Everyone Is Forbidden From Technology
There are different affiliations of Amish folk, and not all of them subscribe to the same strict code. For example, Swartzentruber Amish don’t use tractors for their fieldwork, mechanical refrigerators, running water bathtubs, or propane gas.
On the other hand, Kalona Amish make room for all of those things and more. Some allow cell phones and lamps, while others do not — it’s much more complex than most think.
7. They Pay Taxes, But Not Social Security
Due to their religion, the vast majority of Amish don’t believe in getting benefits from the government, so they don’t have to pay Social Security, as they don’t receive the benefits (by choice). They do, however, have to pay property and sales taxes.
8. They Grow Their Beards For Religious Reasons
9. Their Dolls Have No Faces
Well, not all of them, but some of them. These faceless dolls are meant to deter vanity, and to show that all are equal in the eyes of God.
10. Women Only Have Four Dresses
There is no need for a full closet of dresses in the Amish community. There is one for wash, one for wear, one for dress, and one for spare. All of the dresses are plain colored and go with a plain-colored cape. A prayer cap is always worn in case she feels the need to pray at any time of the day.
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