Amish Frequently Asked Questions

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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Comments

  1. Pauli Aaltonen says:

    Guess I should have joined you at age 20. At 56, I’m too old. Wish you the very best, and God bless.

  2. We visited the Amish community in Lancaster recently and took a short tour of Amish stores etc. I found it to be refreshing to be among people who were humble, resourceful, religious and generous. I am envious of how little they need to be content and how proud they are of their work ethic. If only just a little of that could rub off on the rest of us.

    • Ken,
      I completely agree. My family has actually lived without electricity and gas for a few months this past summer due to not having money. We found a way to survive and I was pregnant at the time with two children under 4! You don’t realize your strengths and resolve until you’re forced to make things work for the sake of your family. I would love to completely adopt that lifestyle. I’ll tell you; when we were finally able to turn everything back on, it amazed me how incredibly lax and lazy we got within a week or so.

  3. I would like to know if “Amish Mafia” is for real or just a TV show!! Because I find that if Levi is Amish how can he be driving a car plus have the camera’s in the cars or wherever the story line goes. Just curious!! But I do like the show. Thank You!!

    • You have asked a good question. For that matter, how “real” are any of the “reality” shows on television? No, the “Amish Mafia” show is not real. The actors are not real Amish. As you noted in your question, Amish adults who have officially joined the church do not drive cars, nor to they pose for photographs. However, I understand that some Amish teens here enjoy watching the show because it is so far fetched.

      • I thought Amish didn’t have electricity… How are the teens watching Amish Mafia?

        • They can either watch Amish Mafia with their English friends or on smart phones. Smart phones have proven to be a stumbling block for the Amish in their desire to keep their distance from the larger society. They can refuse electricity and televisions, but smart phones can still provide easy access to the world.

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