The amish, the mennonites, and "the plain people"

The Amish, The Mennonites, and "The
Each church district decides for itself what it will and will not accept; there is no single governing body for the entire Plain People"
Old Order population, but all follow a literal interpretation Who are the Amish?
The Amish are a religious group who live in settlements in 22 states and Ontario, Canada. The oldest group of Old Order Amish, about 16-18,000 people live in Lancaster of the Bible and an unwritten set of rules called the
The Amish stress humility, family and community, and Ordnung.
Old Order groups all drive horses and buggies rather than What is the history of the Amish?
cars, do not have electricity in their homes, and send their children to private, one-room schoolhouses. Children The Amish have their roots in the Mennonite community. Both were part of the early Anabaptist movement in Europe, which took place at the time of the Reformation. After that, they work on their family's farm or business The Anabaptists believed that only adults who had until they marry. The Amish feel that their children do not confessed their faith should be baptized, and that they need more formal education than this. Although they pay should remain separate from the larger society. school taxes, the Amish have fought to keep their children Many early Anabaptists were put to death as heretics by Many Mennonites and progressive Amish do attend high both Catholics and Protestants, and many others fled to the mountains of Switzerland and southern Germany. Here began the Amish tradition of farming and holding their Do they speak English?
worship services in homes rather than churches. Most Amish are trilingual. They speak a dialect of German In 1536, a young Catholic priest from Holland named called Pennsylvania Dutch at home; they use High Menno Simons joined the Anabaptist movement. His German at their worship services; and they learn English writings and leadership united many of the Anabaptist at school. They speak English when they deal with anyone groups, who were nicknamed "Mennonites." They pronounce Amish with a broad "a" (Ah-mish). In 1693, a Swiss bishop named Jacob Amman broke from the Mennonite church. His followers were called the The Amish are a private people who believe God has kept "Amish." Although the two groups have split several them together despite pressure to change from the modern times, the Amish and Mennonite churches still share the world. They are not perfect, but they are a strong example same beliefs concerning baptism, non-resistance, and basic of a community that supports and cares for its members. Bible doctrines. They differ in matters of dress, They are a people apart; they are also a people together. technology, language, form of worship, and interpretation Why do they dress that way?
The Amish and Mennonites both settled in Pennsylvania Old Order Amish women and girls wear modest dresses as part of William Penn's "holy experiment" of religious made from solid-colored fabric with long sleeves and a tolerance. The first sizable group of Amish arrived in full skirt (not shorter than half-way between knee and Lancaster County in the 1720's or 1730's. floor). These dresses are covered with a cape and apron and are fastened with straight pins or snaps. The Amish seem stuck in history.
They never cut their hair, which they wear in a bun on the Why don't they accept modern ideas and innovations?
back of the head. On their heads they wear a white prayer covering if they are married and a black one if they are Although the Amish look like they stepped out of the rural nineteenth century, in fact they do change. Their lives move more slowly than ours, but they definitely are not stuck anywhere. They choose to examine change carefully Men and boys wear dark-colored suits, straight-cut coats before they accept it. If the new idea or gadget does not without lapels, broadfall trousers, suspenders, solid- assist in keeping their lives simple and their families colored shirts, black socks and shoes, and black or straw broad-brimmed hats. Their shirts fasten with conventional buttons, but their suit coats and vests fasten with hooks and eyes. They do not have mustaches, but they grow beards after they marry. attendants, known as newehockers, (Pennsylvania Dutch The Amish feel these distinctive clothes encourage humility and separation from the world. Their clothing is The styles of the dresses are a plain cut and are mid-calf not a costume; it is an expression of their faith. length. They are unadorned, there is no fancy trim or lace What's an Amish wedding like?
Most non-Amish brides wear their bridal dress once, but Family is the core element in the Amish church, and an Amish bride's practical dress will serve her for more choosing a mate is the most important decision in an than just her wedding day. Her wedding outfit will Amishman's life. Boys and girls begin their search for a become her Sunday church attire after she is married. She will also be buried in the same dress when she dies. By the time a young woman turns twenty or a young man The bride and her attendants also wear capes and aprons is in his early twenties, he or she is probably looking over their dresses. Instead of a veil, the bride wears a forward to the wedding day. But several definite steps black prayer covering to differentiate from the white cap must be taken by a couple before they may marry. she wears daily. And, the bride must wear black high- topped shoes. No one in the bridal party carries flowers. Both must join the Amish church. They are baptized into the Amish faith and are responsible for following the
The groom and his newehockers wear black suits. All Ordnung.
coats and vests fasten with hooks and eyes, not buttons. The Ordnung is a written and unwritten set of rules for Their shirts are white, and shoes and stockings are black. daily living. Joining the church prepares the young people Normally, Amish men do not wear ties, but for the for the seriousness of setting up their own home. The groom also wears high-topped black shoes, and a The young man asks his girl to marry him, but he does not black hat with a three and a half inch brim. give her a diamond. He may give her china or a clock. All of the attendants in the wedding party play a vital role The couple keeps their intentions secret until July or in the events of the day. But there is no best man or maid August. At this time the young woman tells her family Wedding dates for the Amish are limited to November and A whirlwind of activity begins after Fast Day on October part of December, when the harvest has been completed 11. Fall communion takes place the following church and severe winter weather has not yet arrived. A full day is needed to prepare for the wedding. Most are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Mondays, Wednesdays and This is a major day in the life of the church because all the Fridays are used as days to prepare for or to clean-up after. couples that plan to marry are "published." At the end of Saturdays are not used as wedding days because it would the service, the deacon announces the names of the girls be sacrilegious to work or clean up on the following day, and whom they plan to marry. The fathers then announce the date and time of the wedding and invite the members A typical Amish wedding day begins at 4 o'clock in the morning. After all, the cows must still be milked and all The couple does not attend the church service on the the other daily farm chores need to be done. Sunday they are published. Instead, the young woman There are also many last minute preparations to take care prepares a meal for her fiancé and they enjoy dinner alone of before the wedding guests arrive. Helpers begin to at her home. When the girl's family returns from church, arrive by 6:30 a.m. to take care of last minute details. By the daughter formally introduces her fiancé to her parents. 7:00 a.m., the people in the wedding party have usually eaten breakfast, changed into their wedding clothes, and After being published, the young people have just a few are waiting in the kitchen to greet the guests. days before the ceremony. They are permitted to go to one last singing with their old group of friends. Some 200 to 400 relatives, friends and church members The girl also helps her mother prepare for the wedding and are invited to the ceremony, which is held in the bride's feast, which takes place in her parents' home. The boy is busy extending personal invitations to members of his The Forgeher, or ushers, (usually four married couples), will make sure each guest has a place on one of the long wooden benches in the meeting or church room of the Blue is a typical color chosen for weddings by young Amish women. Navy blue, sky blue and shades of purple are the most popular colors donning Amish brides in any At 8:30 a.m., the three-hour long service begins. year. An Amish bride's wedding attire is always new. She The congregation will sing hymns, (without instrumental usually makes her own dress and also those of her accompaniment), while the minister counsels the bride and groom in another part of the house. After the minister and the young couple return to the church room, a prayer, Sunday dinner and a sixth for Sunday supper before they Scripture reading and sermon takes place. Typically, the The couple lives at the home of the bride's parents until they can set up their own home the following spring. After the sermon is concluded, the minister asks the bride Do Amish children go to school?
and groom to step forward from their seat with the rest of the congregation. Then he questions them about their Yes.for the many Old Order Amish and Old Order marriage to be, which is similar to taking wedding vows. Mennonite children living in Lancaster County, The minister then blesses the couple. After the blessing, Pennsylvania, the ringing school bell signals a time to shift other ordained men and the fathers of the couple may give attention from field work to school work, a time to drop testimony about marriage to the congregation. A final Old Order children attend one-room schools through the eighth grade and are usually taught by a young, unmarried In a flurry of activity, the women rush to the kitchen to get ready to serve dinner while the men set up tables in a U- shape around the walls of the living room. A 1972 Supreme Court ruling exempted the Old Order A corner of the table will be reserved for the bride and sects from compulsory attendance laws beyond the eighth groom and the bridal party. This is an honored place called The tables are set at least twice during the meal, The one-room schools restrict worldly influences and depending on how many guests were invited. stress the basics such as reading, writing and arithmetic. The importance of the community and cooperation among The tables are laden with the "roast," (roast chicken with bread stuffing), mashed potatoes, gravy, creamed celery, coleslaw, applesauce, cherry pie, donuts, fruit salad, tapioca pudding and bread, butter and jelly. Other links:
The bride sits on the groom's left, in the corner, the same way they will sit as man and wife in their buggy. The immediate family members sit at along table in the kitchen, with both fathers seated at the head. After dinner, the afternoon is spent visiting, playing games and matchmaking. Sometimes the bride will match unmarried boys and girls, who are over 16 years old, to sit The evening meal starts at 5:00 p.m. The parents of the bride and groom, and the older guests are now seated at the main table and are the first to be served. The supper varies from the traditional noon meal. A typical menu might consist of stewed chicken, fried sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, peas, cold-cuts, pumpkin and lemon sponge pies, and cookies. The day usually winds to a close around 10:30 p.m. The couple's first night together is spent at the bride's home because they must get up early the next day to help clean the house. Their honeymoon is spent visiting all their new relatives on the weekends throughout the winter months ahead. This is when they collect the majority of their wedding gifts. Usually, they receive useful items such as dishware, cookware, canned food, tools and household items. Typically, when the newlyweds go visiting, they will go to one place Friday night and stay overnight for breakfast the following day. They'll visit a second place in the afternoon and stay for the noon meal and go to a third place for supper. Saturday night is spent at a fourth place, where they have Sunday breakfast. A fifth place is visited for


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