Amish Country in PA

A-Z Guide to Amish Country in PA

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Key to Unlock the Mysterious Amish Country in PA

A-Z Guide to Amish Country in Lancaster PA

First, a bit of background is needed to unlock the mysteries of Amish Country Lifestyle. Although Lancaster Pennsylvania is not the only Amish lifestyle communities in the USA, it’s one of the largest and definitely the most famous.

Their beliefs and rules are a great example of communal harmony and discipline. The Amish community here in Lancaster is the oldest one in the country and still organized after the old rules.

Now, the Amish people arrived in Lancaster in 1720, after escaping from persecution in Europe. Their migration to the USA happened within the context of looking for a better life for their families and also a more secure medium of work.

Their Christian faith was the main reason for their European persecution but in Pennsylvania, they would have been prospering.

Their easy way of living, with large hills of lush grasses, farms, and horses and buggies kitting the roads, would remind each of us how great are simple things there, in Lancaster County.

However, there are many things to learn about the Amish community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and this article is meant to provide you lots of interesting information in this direction. Keep scrolling down to find more.

The Amish Movie

Reality shows such as Amish Mafia-like other reality shows, it’s mostly scripted for viewing entertainment. Although the characters on the show are embellished and not in a good reflection of the average Amish way of life, I will tell you the actors are really Amish.

 

When the Harrison Ford Movie hit the theaters it provoked a lot of curiosity about the mysterious Amish Lifestyle causing Lancaster Pennsylvania tourism to explode!

One of the first detailed images of the Amish in Lancaster County was the movie “The Witness”, a film which introduced this community to the wider world in 1985. The Witness was a total success, and people became more curious about the Amish and traveled to Lancaster County to find more.

The Witness faced young Amish boy Samuel (playing Lukas Haas), and his mother Rachel (Kelly McGillis), who witnessed a brutal murder and came for help and protection from Harrison Ford, who played the police officer John Book.

After the officer Book finds lots of evidence about the corruption of police, which involves lieutenant James McFee (Danny Glover), he decides to take Samual and his mother, Rachel, in the countryside, right in the middle of the Amish community.

As such, Samuel started growing up through the culture and habits of Amish people, while Book and Rachel began a cautious love story.

As such, the movie “The Witness “ is a great picture of the Amish community people can watch anytime, right at home.

The Amish LifeStyle

Amish Country in PA

The Amish Lifestyle is quite unique, and its rules have been respected for centuries. Here is a resume of the most interesting, yet sacred Amish rules.

Amish Rules

When it comes to Amish Rules, they are kind of different, as there are over 25 different Amish communities. They guide themselves especially based on their religion and church groups, which are Mennonite, And Brethren church groups only in Lancaster County.

As such, the traditions will be slightly different, based on some interpretations from the Bible. But the most traditional Amish communities are called “old-order Amish” and have some more strict rules, such as no electricity in their home or no telephones to use.

The Amish want to protect their community, and their ways are quite unique, maybe a bit exaggerated, some might say. For instance, the Amish isolate themselves from others by not using modern technology.

So, they do not use TVs, cell phones, or the Internet. Modern technology is considered the main tool and the first step to get you out of the community.

Moreover, even transportation for the Amish members is quite rudimentary, so they use horse-drawn buggy or scooters, instead of having their own cars. The approach is even more interesting, as cars are seen as a way of leaving the community.

However, as we have previously mentioned, not all Amish communities think the same. The Amish are made up of the New Order, Old Order, the Beachy Amish, and last but not least, the Amish Mennonites.

For instance, the Beachy Amish and Amish Mennonites are allowed to use some of the modern technology, such as cars. On the other hand, old order groups will never operate automobiles, as they do believe that cars would help some obtain undesirable access to some of the ways of the world.

People might wonder why Amish are still keeping these restrictive rules. Well, they keep their people away from television, telephones, and radio in order to be away from the modern world as much as they can.

One other Amish rule is their choice for farming life. The countryside lifestyle is more preferred by the Amish, as their will is maintaining the rural environment in their community.

However, as previously stated, they refuse using modern technology, meaning they will not work their land using smart tools, but farm equipment pulled by teams of mules or horses.

The Amish are leading their lives by a form of rules, also known as “Ordnung”. These rules are focused on keeping people away from technology and very close to family geographically.

However, they do interact with “the outsiders”, whom they call “English”, only for commerce or jobs.

Clothes and Attire

When you will see Amish people, it’s impossible not to recognize them by their style. They are doing their clothes by themselves, so their plain clothing is as nonconformist as their way of living.

Men and boys will mostly wear broad-brimmed black hats, as well as some all-black or very dark-colored suits. Their coats are straight-cut, without having any lapels, while their pants will be broad fall.

The men’s shirts are strongly colorful, while their shoes and socks are black. They do wear coats and vests fasten with eyes and hooks. Usually, men will grow their beards as soon as they get married, however, mustaches are forbidden.

Old Older Amish are even more conservative, so women in this community wear bonnets, very long dresses all with capes that go over the shoulders. Their shoes will always be black, while their capes and aprons are well fixed with snaps and other pins.

Speaking of hair, the Amish women never cut their hair, never. They will not leave their hair just like that, but keep it in a bun. When it comes to accessories, they are not allowed to wear any kind of jewelry.

All in all, the Amish community is still guiding their lives based on 17th-century attire, and they still do not show any signs of change. They respect their traditions too much, and they still want to live according to their biblical faith.

Clothes and Attire

When you will see Amish people, it’s impossible not to recognize them by their style. They are doing their clothes by themselves, so their plain clothing is as nonconformist as their way of living.

Men and boys will mostly wear broad-brimmed black hats, as well as some all-black or very dark-colored suits. Their coats are straight-cut, without having any lapels, while their pants will be broad fall.

The men’s shirts are strongly colorful, while their shoes and socks are black. They do wear coats and vests fasten with eyes and hooks. Usually, men will grow their beards as soon as they get married, however, mustaches are forbidden.

Old Older Amish are even more conservative, so women in this community wear bonnets, very long dresses all with capes that go over the shoulders. Their shoes will always be black, while their capes and aprons are well fixed with snaps and other pins.

Speaking of hair, the Amish women never cut their hair, never. They will not leave their hair just like that, but keep it in a bun. When it comes to accessories, they are not allowed to wear any kind of jewelry.

All in all, the Amish community is still guiding their lives based on 17th-century attire, and they still do not show any signs of change. They respect their traditions too much, and they still want to live according to their biblical faith.

Amish Beliefs

The Amish beliefs are guided by humility, community, and harmony, and their people are strongly believing in these values. In order to make sure these merits are preserved, the

Amish people are turning away from pride and individualism, and they consider these two like threats to their groups. As such, one of the main habits they adopt is not looking at themselves in mirrors, nor taking photos.

They do consider these types of activities will feed their pride. For the exact same reason, they will always dress plainly.

Going back to humility, this is actually the hallmark of Amish beliefs. Most of the time, people who succeed in keeping their personalities mild and modest are the most esteemed in their communities.

Signs of maturity are considered the patience, waiting, and yielding to others. Of course, there is much other value that is promoted as well, such as obedience, conformity to the community’s rules, as well as group activities.

In other words, people should focus on the full group, rather than on their own personality. They are only supported to work, do commerce, and maintain their friendships with other Amish members.

However, the Pennsylvania Amish community tries to maintain harmony away from secular values, such as pride and selfishness. Keeping this direction, the Amish people of Pennsylvania will keep themselves away from mass media and other types of technology.

Moreover, some habits such as greed or individualism are forbidden, as well as personal photographs.

When it comes to religion, there are other interesting facts to know. For instance, studying the Bible all by yourself is discouraged, as individual interpretations may challenge some traditional doctrines.

Actually, there is no single governing body when it comes to the Old Order Amish population, but each district has a church, which decides for itself what they will accept and what not.

However, what you should know is that all districts have their own regulations and interpretations of the Bible, as well as some unwritten set of rules, which as we previously said they are called “Ordnung”.

All in all, the Pennsylvania Amish community is still resisting too many cultural influences, and they are still fighting to strike the modern world’s rules, adapting to some of its influences, while still keeping the Amish identity.

What Language do Amish Speak

Amish Country in PA

This is a good question many people ask. Well, the Amish speak English fluently, as this is their first language. But they also speak a kind of German dialect, which is known as Pennsylvania Dutch.

On the other hand, when talking about the “Swiss Amish”, they are based in Indiana, and they usually use this Swiss dialect. This language is different from the Swiss spoken by the majority of Amish.

This fact is often a big disturbance, as Swiss-speaking Amish men and Pennsylvania German Amish people have difficulties in understanding each other.

Another interesting fact is that Pennsylvania Dutch is not a written language, however, there have been some attempts to somehow transcribe the language to a type of written form. As such, you can find some dictionaries, as well as some books which are written in this dialect.

Now, the language used by the Amish community is different depending on their activity. For instance, when writing a letter, they will largely use English, and sometimes German, if they know the recipient understands this language.

Amish people are very kind and thoughtful when it comes to having a conversation with non-Amish people. On these occasions, they will only speak English. They will use English while doing business with the outsiders as well.

When it comes to Old Order Mennonites, they speak Pennsylvania German too. Amish children will learn English in school as their primary language. Now, if you will meet Amish people, you will observe that they have the tendency to switch to English when they meet non-Amish. This is their way of showing their respect.

Amish Communities

Amish Country in PA

As we already noticed, the largest Amish community in the USA is located in Lancaster, PA. Moreover, the community here is also the oldest ones in the country. They reached this place in the 1720s because they were running from persecution in Europe and because they were looking for better life opportunities.

In Europe, their persecution was based on their religion, which was a conservative Christian faith.

Nowadays, The United States of America is by far the home for the majority of Amish people, meaning 98.35%. A study from 2019 stated that Old Order communities were present in 31 U.S. states, while the total Amish population in the U.S. stood somewhere around 336,235, up 11,335 compared to the previous year.

There is no doubt that Pennsylvania hosts the largest population of Amish people, with a number of around 79,000, immediately followed by Ohio, with 76,200. However, the largest Amish community is still in Lancaster County.

Amish Farm Markets and Roadside Stands

Amish Country in PA

Amish country that is settled in Lancaster County has lots of farms, as farming is, as mentioned before, is the main way of living and earning money for the Amish. While the center of life is farming, the Amish community has its own retails shops, which are also open to tourists. There are some Amish members that will work in the factories that are owned by “English”.

However, the Amish people are considered excellent farmers, as such, they are still growing and storing lots of their food. They go to the stores only for basic necessities, such as flour and sugar.

Moreover, the Older Order Amish refuse to use any of the modern farm machinery, so when it comes to working for their farms, they prefer to sweat all by themselves, rather than using any modern conveniences. But if they do need some modern machinery, they will use the ones which are operated by no electricity, but alternative power sources.

If you want to visit the Pennsylvania Amish communities, you can also see the Amish bakeries, the food tours, as well as the farm stands, where you can taste some of the delicious Amish traditional food, which is very tasty.

Now, just for you to know from the very start, the traditional Amish food and its recipe have been passed down from generation to generation.

We recommend you to try the Dutch apple dumplings, the scrapple, soft pretzels, the delicious smoked cheeses, the corn soup, pot pies, the sweet doughnuts, as well as the Dutch cabbage rolls.

Amish Country Stores

Amish Country in PA

One thing that has become a popular tourist stop is the Amish Country Stores. The Amish lifestyle is famous for their pride in craftsmanship. You should know an Amish Country store will never sell any imported products. With a simple visit to do a walk through, you can come up with your own crafty ideas.

When you visit an authentic Amish store you will find the most sought after handmade furniture, fancy quilts, gifts & crafts.  You’ll notice the prices a quite reasonable especially for quality merchandise.

Try some homemade baked goods such as a shoofly pie. My all time favorites are a perfect match for any sweet tooth so try apple dumplings or whoopie pies, yum. You can bring home some canned goods as well, find homemade pickles, all-natural jams, and jellies the list goes on. All packed full with delicious goodness.

Most Frequently Asked Questions about Amish Answered

Q: What are the differences between the Amish and the Mennonites?

A: The Amish and Mennonites are following very similar beliefs when it comes to Christian doctrine. For instance, they both believe in creation and redemption. They follow the same Christian rules and faith for everything they see.

However, the main difference between them is how they dress and the technology they use or not. As such, Amish will tend to stay away from any technology and adopt a more conservative lifestyle. On the other hand, Mennonites have a more varied lifestyle and accept technology in their lives. Their clothing is not that plainly as the Amish.

Q: Why Amish people do not use modern technology?

A: The Amish people consider that they should stick to the things God gave to use. As such, they consider the materialistic desires the perfect way to distance themselves from their main culture.

Another important aspect in this direction is the nature of the Amish community. As you might already know, they are opting for a more simple way of living, so they only use horses and buggies for their transportation, they wear hand-made clothes and so on.

Amish people understand that new devices will not bring them joy or any fulfillment in their lives.

Q: Why do Amish people wear plain clothes?

A: The plainclothes of Amish people are actually the mirror for their humility and modesty. They also believe that it is very important to differentiate the roles of women and men in their clothes.

As such, women will always wear dresses and cover their heads, related to the biblical reference in I Corinthian 11. This state in the Bible mentions how important it is for women to have their head all covered.

Q: Can people join or leave the Amish communities?

A: Well, as they mention and stand, anyone can join the Amish and Mennonites, the only requirement is for them to strongly meet the beliefs of the Amish community. Now, of course, these requirements will vary, and they will be more rigid among the Amish, while the Mennonites will be more relaxed especially the moderate and liberal ones.

However, it is quite rare for someone to join the Amish, but there were people who wanted this. On the other hand, there are individuals who will look for leaving the Amish and Mennonites. A good example is the people who leave the Amish and then become Mennonites.

If there is something for sure is that the Amish will try to keep their children very close to the church. There are some sects who will punish their family members if they choose to leave, even if these people are willing to become Mennonites.

Q: How do Amish see the role of women?

A: Well, some might not say this, but Amish and Mennonite women are a priority in these communities. Right before they get married, women will work outside the home, especially for stricter churches.

As you might figure out, education is not a strong priority when it comes to Amish women. After marriage, some women will go and work outside, but most of them will choose to stay home and take care of their family, raise their kids, and make sure all the domestic work is in their charge.

The Amish community believes that the head of the household is given to the men and to the women, according to the Bible. However, this doesn’t mean that women will not be respected or that they do not have the right to make decisions.

Actually, women are protected and appreciated for their hard work, for their delicious cooking, and their ability to raise good, respectable children.

Q: How does their education system work?

A: The answers are different here, depending on each community. Now, the majority of Mennonites will agree with the idea of high school and college education, while the Amish and very few Mennonites will not think that higher education is mandatory.

However, all Amish Children will go to school at least until they reach the 8th-grade year. When the Americans still used one-room schoolhouses, the Amish did the same and integrated this education style into their public school system.

While some Amish still practice this education style, many have chosen to send their children to special parochial schools.

Q: Is it true that Amish people don’t go to war?

A: You heard it right, the Amish and Mennonites do believe that violence is not good, and they want to follow Jesus Christ’s example. They do also believe in that biblical saying that someone hurts you in any kind of way, you should “turn the other cheek.”

The Bible also said that Jesus did not resist the crucifixion and beating, as such, they want to follow this model and not fight in wars. Rather than fighting on the war’s front, Amish and Mennonites tried to do good things in other ways.

For instance, the two groups chose to serve the country by taking care of militaries in hospitals and many other forms of community service.

Q: Do Amish children need to escape “in the real world” for a while?

A: Well, this practice is not actually mandatory, and there are no special requirements for young Amish to go for the “Rumspringa”. This Rumspringa is that time of their lives when they are allowed to “sow their wild oats”.

It means that during this period, some of the Amish parents will buy their children’s cars and dress them in contemporary clothes. However, lots of Amish families will not promote this activity but allow it, as long as their child is not a church member.

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Amish Country in PA

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