Amish in the USA

Who I am
Martí Micolau

Author and references


  • History
  • The present
  • Languages
  • Customs and customs
  • Instruction
  • Curiosity

They reject modern society in almost all its aspects. They dress, live and work according to the rules of two centuries ago, they are quiet, peaceful and pacifist: they are the Amish.


The Amish Americans are a Protestant religious group that has its roots in the Mennonite community. They were part of the first European Anabaptist movement (only adults can receive baptism) that split from Protestantism at the time of the Reformation: persecuted as heretics by both Catholics and Protestants, they were forced to take refuge in the Swiss Alps and in southern Germany and here the Amish tradition was born to devote themselves to agriculture and to gather in homes and not in churches to follow their religious services. The community was founded in the late 1.600s by the Swiss Jacob Amman (hence the name Amish). Emigrated to the United States, mainly to Pennsylvania, to escape persecution, the Amish, Protestants, base their faith on strict respect for the Bible and the rejection of progress.

The present

Today they live in 22 states and Canada. But the Amish Old Order - about 16-18 people - lives in Pennsylvania, between Philadelphia and Lancaster. In the whole of the United States there are about 200.000. An Amish lives in a community with an unusually robust social fabric, based on strong family ties and an even stronger religious identity. Safeguarding this society is essential for every Amish and his actions are devoted to this.

There is a compendium of rules changed and matured over the centuries to which the Amish refer: the so-called Order, the Ordnung, which descend from concepts and passages taken from the Bible. The rules are not very many, so the community takes it upon itself to explain the not always obvious daily application to children, who must develop discernment in the daily declination.


Since their background is predominantly Germanic, they are trilingual: in fact they speak a German dialect, called Pennsylvania Dutch, in the family; they use the German language in their religious services, but they learn English in school and use it with non-Amish people.

Customs and customs

Women and girls wear very modest dresses with long sleeves and skirts never above the ankle: they never cut their hair tied at the nape of the neck covered by a white cap if they are married or black if they are single. They have no jewelry.

Men and boys are dressed mostly in dark with vests and suspenders. They have no mustache (considered militaristic), but they grow a beard after marriage. The Amish reject modernity, but not as such. Objects that do not bring unwanted values ​​into the home and do not cause cracks in the social structure are welcome if they are really necessary and if they are not a vain and superfluous desire. For example, they use the modern wood-burning stove, because it is better and less expensive than older stoves, but they do not compromise on clothing or food consumption, which remain tied to tradition.

For the same reason, the Amish do not even consider television, but are open to books and magazines as long as they do not go against their own culture. They generally do not use electricity and cannot drive motorized vehicles. The relationship with modern medicine is also controversial. They usually take care of themselves at home, but if an Amish is really sick, then the community decides to take them to the hospital.

Family is the core of the Amish belief and thus marriage is the most important decision in life. Boys and girls start thinking about it as early as 16. The color of the bride's dress is almost always blue and it is made by herself and she will always wear it every Sunday and with the same dress she will be buried when she dies.

The life of the followers is marked by a particularly important event: young people after the age of 16 enter the 'rumspringa' phase, during which they leave their homes to go and discover the world around them. At the end of the 'rumspringa', young people are free to decide whether or not to return to the community.


Children go to school until the age of 13, in "eighth grade" (our eighth grade). One classroom, a classroom where everyone, aged 6 and up, lives. The teacher is a single woman. The subjects are basic: reading, writing and arithmetic.


  • Their motto is: Born to raise barns
  • They don't use cars but horse-drawn carriages called buggies
  • Their average income is 93% of the national one
  • The Amish are not in the military, they have always been conscientious objectors
  • They pay their taxes but they don't vote
  • A 1972 Supreme Court ruling exempts them from compulsory education, which in the US goes up to 18 years
  • We only get married in November or December as it is not a harvest period
  • The honeymoon consists of a tour of all relatives

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