The Amish form one of the most curious religious groups in the world due to their austere and isolated way of life, and their traditional way of dressing. They renounce modernity and live from collective work in handicrafts.
The majority communities live in North America, although there are also groups in Mexico, Paraguay and Belize, with more than 300,000 followers in total . Its fundamental rule is the voluntariness of baptism.
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What is the Amish community?
The Amish are a Protestant ethno-religious community known for their austere, isolated and traditional lifestyle. They live apart from society in rural areas and reject any technological innovation that separates them from their simple way of life.
Historically, the Amish community is the result of the 16th century Anabaptist reform in Europe, and its belief that only those who repented of the past in adulthood and made purpose of a new life of strict observance of the Sacred had to be baptized. Scriptures.
The Amish emerged as a sectarian rupture of the Mennonite branch within Anabaptism in 1693, and settled in communities led by Jakob Ammann in English colonies in North America. The Amish almost completely abandoned Europe and settled mostly in America.
His beliefs are based on a free church that is based on the direct contact of the individual with God through the scriptures and prayer. Community life, pacifism, holiness and simplicity , abstinence and collective work are some of the canons of life of the Amish.
How do the Amish live?
The Amish community has penetrated the collective imagination thanks to the series and movies that have reproduced their way of life. They are characterized by living in isolated groups and dressed in a traditional way. Despite the stereotype, they have a decentralized structure and, as such, change their norms and customs according to the community.
There are more than 220,000 Amish in the United States, and about 1,500 in Canada. They profess a calm and peaceful way of life trying to solve problems within the community itself. The elders have a great ascendancy, resolving conflicts and guiding prayer in communities.
The way of life of the Amish is based on the non-obligation of baptism. People in the group are freely baptized, if they wish, when they are adults and conscientious. The children are educated in their own educational centers and, in adolescence, the boys learn an artisan trade and the women housework.
Then the young man is left to decide whether he wants to be baptized or not. When an Amish leaves the community, the decision is irreversible and they will never be allowed to enter again. Acceptance means adopting Amish norms, among which is the austere way of life, abstinence and sustenance through craftsmanship .
8 fun facts about and customs of the Amish
Going a little deeper into the Amish way of life is entering a complex and at the same time shocking world. This is so because, in a globalized world and with so many technological advances, they have become a real rarity.
1. Your own code of conduct
Life in Amish communities is ordered by a code called Ordnung . The decentralized nature of this group means that there is no unified code, although they do share some general prohibitions and limitations.
For example, the use of electricity, telephones, automobiles , computers, and other electronic devices is prohibited, and government health care is denied. It is the community doctors who attend to the sick.
For their non-violent conduct they refuse military service. The Ordnung code is usually very strict and detailed in terms of the community’s dress code, delving into how men’s beards should be or how many folds a hat should have.
2. The Rumspringa
The beliefs of the Amish are based on the voluntariness of the subject to be part of the community. That is why when he enters adulthood, the individual is allowed to leave the group and “see the world”. Go to social events, use electronic devices, live without restrictions , etc.
Upon returning to the community, the subject has to freely decide whether to accept the Amish way of lifeOr give it up forever. The “Rumspringa” varies according to the communities, and there are also some of them in which those who leave the group continue to maintain contact with their families.
Most Amish children whose parents allow them to do Rumspringa end up returning to the community and getting baptized to maintain the family bond .
3. Strict patriarchy
When the children grow up, the men learn a craft and the women the housework. The traditionalism of these communities gives them a profoundly conservative and patriarchal character.
Women have to prioritize community, church and family and give up their personal satisfaction. When they are young they submit to the father, andwhen they marry they become subject to their husband . In the Amish mentality, women do not by nature enjoy the same rights as men.
4. Their strange clothing
In the same way that they reject technological innovations, they demand an old-fashioned way of dressing, respecting tradition. In extreme cases, the use of buttons is even prohibited. Their clothes are usually woven by hand .
The men are clean shaven in their bachelorhood, and as soon as they get married they let their beards grow . They usually wear shirts with a vest and as a general rule they always wear a hat. The mustache is prohibited as a sign of militarism.
The appearance of women is marked by the cap and the apron, complements its simple style with dresses and long skirts. Both women and men tend to tend to clothes with dark colors.
5. The rejection of technology
The Amish code of conduct generally prohibits the use of electricity as a fundamental principle, since it is considered that if electricity is allowed to enter their homes it will be the beginning of many more electronic devices that will end breaking the classical way of life of the community.
A group of Amish building a barn. | Image by: Randy Fath / Unsplash.
The Amish work as artisans and try to subsist with collective work. Their source of wealth, they believe, is in spiritual improvement and the search for an ascetic and holy life.Technology and modern advances are a threat to the development of their spirit and their religiosity.
This, translated into real life, is manifested, for example, in the use of gas lamps to light up at night, and horse carts to move.
6. Congenital diseases
One of the curiosities of the Amish community is the low infant life expectancy: many babies die shortly after birth . Although they consider it “the will of God”, it has a much simpler and more explainable reason: the mixture of blood has led to the deterioration of their genetics.
Being a small community, coming from very few lineages and with an endogamic structure in which they only marry and reproduce among themselves, the blood ends up mixing and ends up producing serious congenital diseases.
The fact that medical evaluation of the fetus is prevented in many communities results in children being born with severe disabilities. Therefore, many Amish groups reject medical care outside their ethnic-religious circle.
Despite their strange way of life, it is untrue that the Amish practice polygamy , unlike other sects and religious groups in America. In fact, the Amish profess chaste sexual practices in which they try to avoid physical contact, which discredits the link between Amish and polygamy.
7. The reading of the Bible in Old German
is the sacramental moment of the community, that which unites it. It is celebrated on Sundays in community venues, although the Amish reject the form of the church as such and the representation of God, Jesus and the saints.
The ceremony is normally officiated by elders, although certain characters trained for it can also become directors, as “bishops” of the congregation. In the mass the messages of the Bible are interpreted , and some passages are read in an old German language.
During the mass, the interpretation and the message that the wise men give to the members of the congregation is very important, because it works as a transmission of the Amish doctrine and practices. There, for example, the need to live far away is transmittedof luxury, in observance of the norms of the community and collective work.
8. Old German as a language
Most of the Amish communities live in the United States, but their origin is central Europe. Among some things that keep their roots, is the language. That is why many of them speak a German dialect called Deitsch , although other communities of Swiss origin use the dialects of Bern and Alsace.
Another widespread form of communication between communities is the old Dutch, Dutch. The use of English is reserved for communication outside the community . For masses a standardized form of Old German is used.
The Amish in Spain
In Spain there area significant community of Mennonites , who are the immediate predecessor of the Amish, but although they share some common beliefs about baptism and religious purity, they do not dress like them or renounce the modern way of life. That is why it is difficult to recognize them with the naked eye.
The Amish have long since left Europe, but statistics say they are one of the fastest growing religious groups. This means that some communities are being created in the Old Continent and, in Spain, the first one was created in Seville about ten years ago.
The first Spanish Amish community was located next to the Autovia de la Plata and they had a church inauguration party. For this they invited the media and, yes, they did.They did through email.
And it is that unlike the more conservative groups of Ohio or Pennsylvania, the Spanish Amish are much more relaxed and open and accept the use of certain electronic devices.
However, the presence of Amish in Spain is still very testimonial and seems more the result of mimicry than of real awareness of their way of life.
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