Questions About the Amish
Throughout this website we have provided extensive information on the Amish, their faith, lifestyle, schools, weddings, their history, and more. Many questions have been submitted to us about the Amish on a variety of topics. Those questions and their answers are included in the above sections where appropriate. Various questions not fitting into those categories are included below. The answers to these questions were provided by the resident experts at the Mennonite Information Center in Lancaster, PA.
“Can an outsider join the Amish church/community?”
“A local Amishman recently remarked, “You do not need to move here to adopt a lifestyle of simplicity and discipleship. You can begin wherever you are.” Yes, it is possible for outsiders, through conversion and convincement, to join the Amish community, but we must quickly add that it seldom happens. First, the Amish do not evangelize and seek to add outsiders to their church. Second, outsiders would need to live among the Amish and demonstrate a genuine conversion experience and faith that results in a changed lifestyle. Third, it is extremely difficult for anyone who has not been raised without electricity, automobiles, and other modern conveniences to adjust to the austere lifestyle of the Amish. And to truly be a part of the Amish community one would need to learn the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect.”
“Is the Amish calendar the same as ours?”
“The Amish use the same yearly calendar that you use. We might add that November is the month for weddings – spring, summer, and fall months there is too much work to be done and in the winter there’s the risk of unfavorable weather. Also, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the days for weddings – these are the least busy days of the week.”
“I think some of my ancestors might have been Amish. How can I find out?”
“The best source of that kind of information would be the Mennonite Historical Society, which maintains an extensive genealogical library. Their address is 2215 Millstream Road, Lancaster, PA 17602. Telephone: (717)393-9745.”
“How true was the portrayal of the Amish in the movie “Witness,” starring Harrison Ford?”
“The movie, “Witness,” portrayed Amish lifestyle fairly accurately in what was shown, but it portrayed a very limited segment of Amish lifestyle. The Amish people have had a lot of reservations about “Witness.” The plot seemed to be inconsistent with the lifestyle and culture of the Amish. It was filmed in the geographical area of the Amish, but not on an Amish farm. The actors and actresses in the movie were not Amish.”
“What are the Amish courting rituals?”
“For many of the Old Order Amish young people, “pairing up” begins at Sunday evening singings, The boy will take the girl home in his buggy. The couple is secretive about their friendship and courtship. Several days to two weeks before the wedding, the couple is “published” in church and their intentions to marry are made known. Weddings are held in November, or at the very latest in early December. That’s after the busy fall harvesting season is over. Weddings are on Tuesdays or Thursdays–the least busy days of the week on an Amish farm. The wedding is held at the home of the bride and the sermon and ceremony will last about four hours. Weddings usually begin at 8:30 a.m. There are no kisses, rings, photography, flowers or caterers. There are usually 200 or more guests. After the wedding there will be a delicious dinner of chicken, filling, mashed potatoes, gravy, ham, relishes, canned fruit, plus many kinds of cookies, cakes and pies.”
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