Who are the Amish People?
The Amish, or as they were formally known, the Old Order Amish, are a group of Anabaptist Christians who are closely related to the Mennonites. The Amish community is known for their plain dress, simple living, avoidance of technology, and Christian pacifism.
Many of us may already know that Amish people value manual labor, rural life, Gelassenheit (submission to God’s will), and humility. However, most of us may not know much about Amish culture, lifestyle, and community. So, we thought it was an excellent time to take a closer look at who the Amish are and what life is like for them.
Amish Culture: Plain Dress, Horse and Buggy, Religious Beliefs
One of the main differences between the Amish and other religious groups is the lack of evangelicalism. Amish beliefs are tied into every aspect of daily life. They believe that salvation occurs every day, so they take great care to protect their values. They do not believe in recruiting other members because they are confident that possessing the knowledge of salvation is the only way to be saved.
When it comes to culture, the Amish have a very structured way of life that can be described as humble and simple. Let’s take a look at some of the critical points of Amish culture:
Amish clothing is simple and plain. Some groups wear muted colors. Others are restricted to black and white. Adornments are non-existent, as buttons are frowned upon, and zippers and velcro are banned. Most Amish clothing is fastened by hook-and-eye or pin closures. While fancier clothes are rare, capes are used for religious services.
Horse and Buggy
As you may already know, the Amish are very slow to adopt technology, including cars. They feel that cars allow for greater mobility, which would pull their community apart and ultimately erode local ties. This is why Amish people prefer to keep their local base anchored through the use of horse and buggy.
Yet, it is interesting to note that some groups have rules that allow for 12-volt battery-operated vehicles, and while most Amish are not allowed to drive cars, some are permitted to hire outside “English drivers.”
The Amish community follows two key concepts: They reject Hochmut (pride, arrogance), and they highly value Gelassenheit (composure, calmness, placidity) and Demut (humility). They have a strong willingness to submit to Jesus’ Will and are at odds with individualism.
Amish Lifestyle: Farming, simplicity, close-knit communities
Did you know that 64% of the Amish population is scattered between Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania? So there’s no surprise why the Amish are great farmers. In fact, they grow and store most of their food, and the only staples they buy from stores are sugar and flour. Some groups, such as the Old Order Amish, refuse to use many modern farm technologies instead of using their own sweat labor to get the job done. They live simple lives and maintain close-knit communities.
Amish communities are not involved in any sort of politics – state or national. And because the Amish are pacifists, they do not serve in the military. They also do not believe in many types of insurance or Social Security, often pooling resources to help other community families in need. However, they do visit opticians, doctors, and dentists. It’s commonly said that while the Amish are in the world, they are not really part of it, and this is evident in the way they attempt to stay so disconnected from the rest of society.
Amish Community: Cooperation, traditions, separation from the world
As far as formal religious doctrine goes, the Amish are very similar to the Mennonites. Traditions, humility, family, and separation from the world govern the Amish’s beliefs. Their customs and everyday lives are governed by the Ordnung, which is an unwritten set of rules that serve as a code of behavior. They follow strict rules and shun disobedient community members.
And when it comes to traditions, the Amish have several that are unique to their culture and revolve around their religious beliefs. For example, Baptism is reserved for adults, as only adults can make decisions about their faith. And when it comes to dating, there are specific rules a young man must follow. The gentleman must offer the lady a buggy ride home after Sunday singing, then exchange letters and see each other on weekends, and eventually, he will ask for her hand in marriage, but not for at least one year of dating.
The History of Amish Craftsmanship
America’s first group of Amish people arrived in 1730, and with them brought many traditions and skills. One such tradition was the making of furniture and other items. The Amish have been making furniture for centuries, but Americans didn’t embrace it until the 1920s.
And with American embrace came their reputation as being the best. Amish people are some of America’s oldest craftsmen, refining their techniques for generations. Today, it’s still difficult to find people who have such a deep understanding of the art of crafting wood. You can find Amish craftsmanship on display at museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Smithsonian.
What are the Amish known for making?
When you consider that Amish communities are extremely self-sufficient and shun most types of technology, it becomes clear that they are known for making many types of items. Some of these items include Amish furniture, houses, buggies, harnesses, quilts, and more. Perhaps their most well-known items are their furniture and buggies. And this is for a good reason – they use nothing but solid wood and hand tools to painstakingly assemble each piece. This is why Amish furniture is highly sought-after and considered to be of the highest quality.
The Amish way of life is unique and intriguing
The modern world is full of technology and conveniences that tend to make people feel less connected to the world around them. On the other hand, the Amish value humility, simplicity, self-sufficiency, and family. So, when you stop to think about who lives a more meaningful life – the Amish or the modern American – the answer should be clear. Perhaps we should all take a lesson from the Amish and embrace the moment and all of life’s small pleasures!
Check out the infographic for more fascinating facts about the Amish!
This infographic put together by the folks at dutchcrafters.com reveals the true daily lives of the Amish. Their customs, and a look at the violent discrimination they faced in 16th and 17th century Europe.
Content updated in June 2022.