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If you live in Pennsylvania or the Midwest, you're likely to have encountered members of the local Amish community. This unique community is known for shunning modern conveniences and keeping their lifestyle to themselves. From facial hair and faceless dolls to dating and everyday routines, the religious group has numerous extraordinary facets. Time to learn and prepare to be surprised.
Most Amish communities avoid the modern convenience of electricity and live life like the olden days before technology. In their philosophy, the earth should be utilized as God originally intended, which can be interpreted as "Gelassenheit,” meaning "letting be.” However, some less conservative Amish communities use electricity for whatever situations they deem necessary.
Amish men don't shave their natural hair, except for the mustache, so they generally keep a long beard but have a clean-shaven face. That's partly due to their belief that they want to live as God created them. The other reason is that the mustache symbolized wealth and military status back in the 1800s, so they think wearing a mustache goes against their wish to be ordinary.
The Amish don't use Instagram or cameras, considering them to be pieces of technology. They don't do paintings either, though the brush and canvas aren't exactly modern technology. Their reason is quite surprising. Amish people don't remember the departed by images but by memories. A photo or painting of someone is regarded as a graven image, so it's banned.
To us outsiders, those faceless dolls may look creepy, but to the Amish kids, they are lovely and meaningful. Amish parents make these simple toys themselves. They don't make faces on the dolls because they want the kids to know that how someone looks doesn't matter. It's an important step in fighting against body image issues originating from unrealistic expectations.
Being raised in a secluded community with no technology doesn't mean you'll be a flawless teen. Amish teenagers make trouble and explore their rebellious side, too. However, they aren't in much trouble when they do because they get free passes. Amish parents totally understand adolescents' rebellious side, and they don't believe in punishment.
Technically, the Amish are all high school dropouts because they finish schooling after the 8th grade. In Amish communities, there is no high school. After completing their simple education, men are supposed to work for life, and women become housekeepers. The compulsory education that outsiders are struggling with seems to be unimportant to the Amish.
To explore their rebellious side, Amish teens are allowed to experience society outside the Amish world. This event is called Rumspringa, meaning "running around." Going through the Rumspringa is considered a rite of passage for Amish kids. They do this because they think it isn't fair to prevent kids from knowing what they'd give up after they are baptized.
After their Rumspringa ends, most Amish teens go back to the Amish life. It's hard for us to imagine, but most do, and soon after their return, they are baptized to become an official part of the Amish faith. For the minority that choose to stay in the non-Amish world, they still have the chance to be baptized and return to the community if they want.
Parents always take pains to prevent their young children from sleeping with someone. Believe it or not, Amish parents allow it, but not in the way you think. When an Amish girl and boy are in love, part of the dating process is bundling, meaning sharing a bed one night. They sleep side by side but separated and fully clothed. This is supposed to help strengthen the bond between the lovebirds as they stay awake all night talking.
On an Amish wedding, there is nothing new, only something old, borrowed, and blue. In a proposal, there is no diamond ring, as it's considered a sign of vanity. What's more, the bride doesn't wear any jewelry or makeup, and instead, she only wears a simple blue dress with hair covered. The wedding ceremony usually happens in the fall, which is supposed to be romantic.
In a small, intensely secluded community, you have very limited options in who you can marry. As a result, inbreeding occurs, and the genetic risk goes along with it. The Amish community is no exception. Though they don't purposely marry their cousins, there is a high chance that inbreeding happens, since they aren't allowed to marry non-Amish people.
The night of the wedding is usually a big night for newly-weds, but things are different in the Amish tradition. The new bride and groom start their honeymoon at the bride's parents' house. The next morning, they clean the house as a way to say thanks. Then they continue their honeymoon by visiting each other's relatives. This tradition is rooted in family values.
Like many other strict religious groups, Amish people don't take preventive measures in the bedroom, nor do they have any contraceptives in their community. They believe that whatever happens is God's intention, and being pregnant is God's blessing. In fact, the Amish want to have as many kids as possible. A couple has 5 to 7 children on average.
Nowadays, DNA testing is an important piece of technology to help us learn more about our past and even look for long-lost relatives. However, Amish people prohibit it. Given their simple education, DNA is usually something they typically don't understand, and there's no way of making sure of it either. The Amish believe if inbreeding occurs, it's just God's will.
Believe it or not, the Amish suffer less from cancer and other serious diseases. They haven't found a cure, but they do have a secret. In Amish communities, everything they eat is home-grown and organic, and people have no access to cancer-causing goods like alcohol or cigarettes. It's their healthy and simple lifestyle that helps keep the specter of cancer away.
The Amish refer to anyone that is not Amish as an English person, whatever ethnicity you are, whatever skin color you have, or whatever country you come from. This can be attributed to their immigration patterns centuries ago. Known for adhering to their customs, Amish men kept on referring to all outsiders as English, and the tradition stuck.
The Amish have lots of rules to remember, so it's good to have a book that lists them all. The two most important books Amish people have are the Bible and the Ordnung. The latter, meaning order or discipline in German, is a guide book stating what an Amish is and isn't allowed to do. It's a framework they live by. If you break one of its rules, you'll be punished.
The Amish don't do any mall shopping. In their philosophy, everyone is equal, and vanity and selfishness are avoided. Therefore, all the Amish women dress in the same simple dresses and the men in black pants and a plain shirt. Besides a hat or bonnet, they have no accessories, jewelry, makeup, nor even a pattern in the stitching.
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