The Amish originated in Switzerland but is now culturally centered in the States and Canada. The Amish are called the Old Order Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch. The religion is strict in the teaching of separation from the world and a tightly knit community. The doctrine that the Amish follow teaches farming and simplicity. Because of this simplicity, the Amish are now allowed to have electricity, own cars, or go to war. What modern people see as necessities in today’s world, the Amish people live without in the Pennsylvania Dutch society.
The Amish originated in Switzerland around the time of 1525. In the 16th century, the act of baptizing an adult was considered a crime. The members were beaten and thrown into rivers and left to die painful deaths. The carnage in Europe led to the immigration of the Amish (Amish). A man named Jacob Ammann lead the Swiss Mennonites, now called the Amish, to the United States of America and Canada (Origins).
When the Amish settled in the United States the religion had its own ideas of how strict the religion should be. As groups of people began to split, different religious groups formed. The Old Order Amish are the strictest of the groups (Amish).
In the religion the services are done in the homes. These homes are designed to be able to have a large group of people in them. There are members of the religion that half a higher position than normal members. There is a deacon, a bishop, and two preachers. The church is held on Sundays and the members of the church take turns on who will host the next service (BBC).
The doctrine of the Amish teaches its members about farming and simplicity. The unwritten rules are called Ordnung. This unwritten set of rules is followed by everyone but if there is a question about them then the oldest members of the community will take up the position and make sure the rule is made clear. The religion teaches that individualism is not something important or to be proud of but that it’s better to be plain and simple. The Amish believe that God is happier when people take care of the world and remain pacifists. If anyone breaks these rules the person who is accused will be shunned until forgiveness has been offered (BBC).
The clothing of the women in the Amish society consists of long plain dresses and bonnets (Amish). The women can also wear long sleeves and a full skirt with plain shoes. The women do not wear make-up. The men’s clothing is of the same plainness as the women’s. The men wear dark colored pants or trousers, braces, and straight-cut coats. The men are often seen with a wide brimmed hat sometimes made of straw. The children wear closely to the same clothing that the adults wear with the exception that they often go barefoot (BBC).
The life of the Amish consists of no electrical uses in their homes. There are exceptions as dairy farmers have to comply to the religions. The electricity is only wired up to the barns and is not used but to continue as dairy farmers (BBC). Everything done by the Amish involved the help of the community as a whole. If a family needs a barn built the whole community comes together and helps build the barn and depending on the size, it can be put up in a few days or a few weeks (Origins).
As the Amish practice separation from the modern world, they practice different languages. At home the families use a German based language called Pennsylvania Dutch. At church the Amish use a high German dialect. When speaking to a person that isn’t Amish, or “English”, the use English (BBC).
As tourism of Amish communities grows, Amish people are starting businesses to help make money. It has been noted that Amish businesses do better than U.S. businesses. “Amish businessesâ€¦ are growing, prospering, and thriving. The Amish have low business failure rate, 4 percent a decade compared to the 70 percent failure rate of new U.S. businesses within their first three years of operation.” This increase in business success rates could be the result of more tourism. “â€¦the Aurthur Vistor center recorded 29,114 visitsâ€¦” (Turco). Many Amish people have shops that consist of wood shops, selling craft such as quilts, selling fruits and vegetables, bakeries, restaurants, gift shops, and an open farmer’s market (Mink). Most of the businesses have 10 or fewer employees who are Amish. In some business it is completely ran by family members (Tenner).
Most Amish families are farmers. They use horses, oxen, or mules to plow their fields. The machinery used cannot have rubber wheels but metal ones instead. Many of the Amish produce corn to feed the animals that they family will use for meat. Some of the meat may be sold at the markets and the hides of the animals are used to make leather goods. Some families may be smaller and that raise animals for their own consumption while other farms may be raising or growing the animals or crops to sell. The animals grown may be chickens, pork, beef, and lamb. Some major crops grown are corn and oats (BBC).
Some farmers use pesticides, herbicides, and may use seeds that have been altered genetically (Tenner).Other farmers rely on nature to benefit them in the way that nature does. Farmers that use more traditional ways rely on birds to take care of their insect problems. “the birds, you see, are our allies. Each year, the swallows kill thousands of insects over our fieldsâ€¦” the Amish need the birds so they help them by building them nest and never tarring down the old nest. Some Amish believe by using horses rather than tractors, they are being closer to one with nature (Kline).
The families in the Amish communities usually have an average of seven to eight children. The families never divorce and only marry other Amish. The Amish do not marry a first cousin and would prefer not marrying the second cousin either (BBC). The husbands are usually the ones that are responsible for bringing in the most money. They are usually the farmers and do the harder labored work in the barns and in the fields. Some men many have a change of roles and may do more of the gardening and house roles that most women would do (Amish Studies).
The wives can be the bread winner in some cases because she may run a business. Most wives are stay at home moms that have the responsibilities of taking care of the children and doing task around the house. Most women do not have full time jobs because of their children. Women and men share the house hold decisions for the most part. The husband usually just makes religious decision and the wife is more active in nurturing the religion and making more household decisions (Amish Studies).
The wives aren’t always busy with house chores. The Amish sisters have gatherings that mix everyday chores up. The group of women may get together and make quilts or have fun while harvesting vegetables. In a time of an emergency the community will come together to help the families. The wives will care for the children and the men will focus on more labored work. The elderly also help the families. The grandmothers will help baby sit and the grandfathers will help the other men with outside chores (Amish Studies).
The children’s roles at home are chores around the farm such as feeding chickens and collecting the eggs and milking cows. The children go to school until 14 and 15 years old. A normal school has about 25 to 35 people in a one room schoolhouse. The material is taught in English and is usually taught by younger women (BBC).
In the Amish schools text books are used and the teacher has the same education as an eighth grader (Halvorsen). The teachers have been taught by older more experienced Amish teachers. “By the time an Amish girl is twelve years old she knows how to cook a meal for a whole crew of Amish workers, and a young man knows farm operations by the time he is a teenager.” The Amish limit the education because after school the children learn the vocational skills (BBC).
“After they leave school Amish boys learn work skills such as farming and carpentry on the job, while Amish girls concentrate on practical domestic matters” This remains true until the child turns 16 and goes through a period called Rumspringa. Rumspringa is when an Amish child is allowed to go out into the world to choose if he or she wants to go live there or wants to become a full Amish member. “90% decide to do so” (BBC).
The transportation of the Amish consists of simply horses and buggies. The Amish can take rides in someone else’s car. For long distances, this is a good way for getting around. The Amish can hire someone to drive them to places if need be (BBC). Most stores have made hitching post and accommodations for the Amish. “Amish friends, please clean up after your horse. A shovel and garbage can are provided” (Mink).
The life of the Amish is centered on their community, having strong family bonds, and living life with a simplicity that most modern people don’t have. The Amish remind people of how things used to be and because of this the tourism in the Amish communities are growing. This doesn’t change the roles of the people or their beliefs in their religion. The Amish live in peace and harmony with nature and themselves.
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