Are Amish considered Americans
Visiting the Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
The Amish in Lancaster County live like in another time: electricity, cars or the internet are taboo. Instead, they live according to strict rules and immediately attract attention with their black carriages and old-fashioned clothing.
The largest Amish community in the United States lives in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Amish with their ancient German are particularly fascinating for us Germans, whereas in the USA they are part of the street scene in many communities. During our USA tour we had the opportunity to make a detour to the Amish.
In the following I would like to bring you a little closer to the Amish culture and give you tips for your visit.
Who are the Amish?
The Amish are a religious group whose Origin in Switzerland and southern Germany lies. The Amish are named after their founder Jacob Amman.
The Amish don't just live after strict religious rulesbut also live like in another time without technical achievements like cars, electricity, telephones or the internet. You speak an ancient-sounding Pennsylvania Dutch, which is easy to understand for Germans.
Due to religious persecution in their homeland, the first Amish settled in America in the 18th century. There they settled in Pennsylvania settled where the Quaker William Penn gave them Freedom of belief granted.
In the course of advancing industrialization, there was disagreement about the extent to which the community should join the modernization. As a result, the Amish split off from the less strict Mennonites.
There are also within the Amish significant differences between groups of the old order and groups that have adapted to the majority society.
The number of Amish is going to be around 320.000 estimated (source: Elizabethtown College). Most of it lives in Pennsylvania. But there are also larger churches in Indiana, Ohio, and Canada.
As the elderly Amish reject contraception and have many children, they are one of the fastest growing religious groups in the United States.
The Amish in Lancaster County
The Amish in Lancaster County are the largest and oldest Amish community in the USA.
The typical Warning signs with carriages at the roadside tell us that we're slowly getting to the Amish in Lancaster County. And indeed: shortly after the first sign we see a black horse-drawn carriage on the street.
A visit to Lancaster County can be nicely rounded off with a visit to Washington D.C. (2h 15min), Philadelphia (1.5h) or Baltimore (1.5h) connect. As soon as you leave the hustle and bustle of the big cities, it quickly becomes more rural.
Amish way of life
There is no such thing as "the Amish". There are old-order churches with very strict rules, but there are also more liberal churches.
It is important to understand: The Amish do not reject new technology per se as the work of the devil. Rather, they do not want to endanger the cohesion within the community and the family and concentrate on the essentials.
Amish households usually have no power and therefore no electric light, no televisions, computers and the Internet. However, there are also some concessions to modernity. For example, refrigerators and washing machines in many households run on gas, whereas telephones can be used in specially equipped telephone booths.
Most Concessions are in the field of Agriculture made. Due to the abundance of children and the shrinking land area, the Amish are finding it increasingly difficult to be self-sufficient. Because of this, there are communities that use tractors, chainsaws and cooling tanks for agriculture (source: amishamerica.com).
The Amish are not allowed to drive a car. However, they are allowed to ride as passengers and use public transport. The Amish are not allowed to use airplanes because the sky is reserved for God. A passport is also required for a flight. The Amish are forbidden to take photos for reasons of vanity. However, special permits from the bishop are possible.
The life of the Amish is characterized by a lot of physical work in the open air. The Amish are amazing compared to the Americans (but also to us Europeans) slim and fit. Although the Amish refuse to vaccinate, their children should less prone to asthma and allergies.
However, that is problematic low gene pool. Today's Amish are descended from 2000 Amish immigrants who married mostly within the community. As a result, the number of surnames is small. Around 25% of the Amish in Lancaster County have the surname Stoltzfus.
The close genetic relationship has led to more frequent birth defects. As a result, marriage regulations are a little stricter these days. In addition, many Amish send their youth to churches in other states.
The close relationship also ensures an accumulation of positive genes (source: stern.de). Because some Amish carry a gene that makes them around 10 years older and less likely to suffer from diabetes.
The Amish speak an old-fashioned sounding German with a touch of the Palatinate, the Pennsylvania Dutch. The language is mainly transmitted orally. Lillian Stoltzfus recently published a Pennsylvania Dutch textbook.
Because of their language, the Amish set themselves apart from the predominantly English-speaking society. At the same time, they also strengthen their sense of community.
During our trip we were unfortunately unable to pick up a few words from Pennsylvania Dutch because the Amish spoke English to us tourists.
In the following video, a young Amish explains the specifics of their language:
Family life and community life
The Amish prefer to be among themselves and limit contact with the “English” to trading in goods. However, this is much less possible today than it was in the past. Therefore, a horse-drawn carriage in front of a supermarket or Amishe craftsmen on a house roof is not an unusual sight.
Since the Amish no contraception know are Amish families many children. It is not without reason that the Amish are one of the fastest growing religious communities in the United States.
The young Amish look for their spouses within their community. The rules that each municipality lays down in its otto, a comprehensive set of rules, are often too different. In addition, distances are more difficult to cover without airplanes. However, due to an increasing awareness of birth defects among relatives who are too close, there is an increasing exchange between the communities.
The most noticeable feature of the Amish is their clothing. Women wear long dresses, mostly blue. The men wear trousers and simple shirts, mostly in a black and white combination. In addition, any decorative elements (including buttons) are prohibited.
Married men have a beard. Women are also not allowed to cut their hair and hide it under a hat.
Sense and purpose of simple clothes it is not to let any differences arise or to awaken vanity.
Relationship to the state
The Amish do not send their children to public schools, but teach their children privately. In Amish community schools all age groups are taught together. The teacher is usually young and gives up her job when she gets married.
The children go to school for 8 years, but help their parents in the fields and around the house even before they finish school. American children mainly learn in their schools practical and religious things. The curriculum includes the basics of arithmetic, reading and writing, but also English to be able to communicate with the outside world.
Secondary schools or even universities are not the rule for Amish.
The Amish have no health insurance, but may be treated in hospital in the event of illness. In the event that a family cannot bear the costs, the community steps in.
Nowadays it is difficult for the Amish to make a living from farming alone. Amishen are allowed to work, for example, as a craftsman or chambermaid. The Amish are considered reliable and conscientious and are therefore gladly hired.
This is how the Amish pay automatically Taxes and are also entitled to a pension. However, they do not make use of these. The care and livelihood of old people is the responsibility of the family or the community.
The Amish are organized in church districts, each of which consists of 20-30 families. The congregation is headed by a bishop and preachers who are drawn by lot.
Sunday is sacred to the Amish. Work is suspended that day and the Amish meet for church services. Instead of going to churches or meetinghouses, the Amish take turns meeting at one of the families.
For this purpose, the largest room is cleared and benches are set up. Of course, women and men sit separately from each other.
As strict as the Amish life is, with the rumspringa time, young Amish are given a time to get to know life in the outside world. Since the Amish are only baptized after this time, they can also decide against living in the church.
During this time, the young people can wear western clothing, get their driver's license and drink alcohol. One might think that it is tempting. However, around 6 out of 7 young people return to the Amish community after this time. The The exit rate is loweven when no pressure is applied.
Lunch at an Amish-run restaurant in Lancaster County
Roast chicken, butter noodles, beef sauce, mashed potatoes and freshly steamed vegetables - all of these are sure to sound familiar. Because the hearty, home-style Amish cuisine is very similar to ours.
If you are in Lancaster County, I recommend a visit to Dienners Country Restaurant. Although the owners use former Amish and electricity in their restaurant, they source their food from local Amish farms.
For only $ 11.55 you can enjoy a lunch buffet here during the week, which can absolutely compete with grandma's kitchen.
Visit: The Amish Farm and House in Lancaster County
Would you like to get to know the life of the Amish without invading their privacy? Then I recommend a visit to The Amish Farm and House in Lancaster. The former Amish farmhouse is now a museum and only about five minutes away from Dienners Country Restaurant.
During a 45-minute tour of the farmhouse, you will get an insight into the Amish way of life. The tour guides are not Amish, but their immediate neighbors. Amish are also employed on the farm. They have the opportunity to sell their products to tourists there.
For more tips on what to see in Lancaster County, visit the museum's website, including a farmers' market.
Conclusion & critical thoughts on Amish as a tourist attraction
To us, Amish life may seem unnecessarily difficult and overly strict. Why go to so much effort and ignore technical progress? However, the high return rate also suggests that the outside world does not necessarily make you happier than this supposedly deprived life.
Amish life is slower and community is more important. After dinner together, not everyone disappears in front of the television, laptop or smartphone. Instead, the family plays board games together.
However, one cannot speak of seclusion. The Amish are present in the streets or in markets.
Unfortunately, my impression is also that the Amish are strong in Lancaster County Marketing the region contribute. Tourists can book tours in black carriages or even visit the Amish Experience amusement park. There is a series in the USA Amish Mafia, which not only draws attention to the Amish, but also completely misrepresents them, as Amish fundamentally reject violence.
Hence my request to you: Please do not take any photos of the Amish
It actually goes without saying, but I have also seen that some tourists have tried to hide more or less in spite of this to take photos of the Amish. (The photos in this post, on which the faces of the Amish are photographed, I got from an image database). Knowing that the Amish reject photos for religious reasons, I find it even more disrespectful than it is to take photos of people without being asked.
I also recommend that you do not go to an Amish farm on your own and try to come into contact with the people there. The Amish are rather shy and certainly don't think it's great to have uninvited visitors.
The Amish Farm and House (see above) is a great opportunity to learn more about the Amish without them being disturbed.
In summary, I hope that this article was able to bring you closer to the Amish culture in Lancaster County 🙂 If you have any comments or questions, I look forward to your comment.
If you are looking for inspiration for your bucket list, you will find it in my bucket list ideas or on my bucket list.
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