About The Amish

The Amish are a deeply religious group descended from the Anabaptist movement. They have settlements in many states, but the largest settlements are in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, and Ontario, Canada.

The Amish believe very strongly in remaining separated from the world. They deny themselves the use of regular electricity and automobiles. Out of necessity, they do use generators attached to diesel engines, and ride in cars from time to time. Their dress is also very distinctive. The men wear black broadfall trousers, solid colored shirts, suspenders, and black or straw hats. The women wear modest, solid colored dresses, usually with long sleeves and a full skirt. They wear a cape and apron over these dresses. Women wear their hair pulled back in a bun, and a bonnet, or "prayer veiling" on their heads.

The Amish do not drive automobiles. Instead, they drive horse-drawn buggies. The color of buggy varies from settlement to settlement, but here in Pennsylvania, they are black. Part of the reason for maintaining this tradition is to keep the community from getting too spread out. Even the use of bicycles is frowned on. Rarely do you even see the Amish riding horseback. The family and community is very important to them, which is why shunning is such a powerful deterrent to rejecting the Amish religion

Farming is still a big part of the Amish lifestyle. Many Amish families are quite large, and farming is a great occupation for a large family unit. It is not uncommon at all to see a 6 or 7 year old driving a team of horses or mules in the field. All of the farming is done with horse-drawn implements or by hand. This produces a lot of hard work and long hours. It is this kind of simple, hardworking lifestyle that helps to keep the Amish family and community so close-knit; a sharp contrast to today's worldly trends. The Amish are very ingenious in using mechanical things to do what we would do electronically. With pneumatic (air) or hydraulic power, they can replace a lot of electronics.

Amish do not have televisions, computers, or other electronic equipment. Out of necessity, they do have telephones, but these are kept in little sheds at some distance from their house (called "phone shanties") in an attempt to keep from being tempted to use the phone more than just emergencies.

Most Amish speak English as their second language. Different dialects of German are their first language, with high German being spoken at their church services. In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Dutch is most commonly spoken among the Amish. Many Amish children don't learn English until they are taught it in their one-room schoolhouses.

The Amish are known for their simple way of life. They are also known for their craftsmanship, stemming from their continuing of traditions and practices that taught that "A job worth doing is a job worth doing right". Amish-made food, furniture, and crafts are known for their quality workmanship.

While the Amish culture may appear to be unchanging, even while the rest of the world is changing rapidly, this is not the case. The Amish simply are careful to only accept those changes which will still encourage close family and community ties, and a separation from worldly pleasures that may lead them astray.