When you think about the Amish people, the first thing that comes to mind is probably a man riding a horse and carriage, wearing a straw hat and smoking a pipe. And you wouldn’t be too far from the truth, but what do these people really believe in?
Let’s take a look at the traditions, practices, and beliefs that keep the Amish people grounded and thriving in a modern world.
The Amish people have many traditions, but singing songs (or hymns) has to be one of the oldest. One of their most cherished books, the Ausbund, originates from 16th century Germany and it contains over 900 pages of religious traditions.
Many of these pages contain hymns that were composed by German Anabaptists and even more have been added throughout the years. Sadly, these songs are not really songs as much as they are chants.
UWhen you think of a song, you imagine musical instruments, harmonizing, and cheerful spirits. When it comes to Amish hymns though, none of these things are present. The songs are sung in German with no instruments or harmonization. And if that didn’t sound bad enough, the songs are exclusively about sorrow and loss that come from a holy fight against the wicked.
In Christianity, baptisms occur in the first year or two of life. The child doesn’t have a say in the matter, and the entire performance is orchestrated by the parents and members of the church. In Amish culture, the children don’t receive their baptism until their late teens – and it is their choice entirely.
If the young adult comes back from Rumspringa with a desire to rejoin the church for life, they may do so. If the children do not want to live a life of simplicity, they are free to choose a different life instead. Isn’t that sort of beautiful?
If someone chooses to accept the rules of Amish living and then breaks them, the offender will (after repeat offenses) become shunned from the group. That means they are cut off from their friends and family, cast aside by their superiors. These “shunned” members will often be excommunicated from the church as well. Shunning doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it sends a message.
Amish weddings only occur after the autumn season has arrived or passed. They are free to hold wedding ceremonies anytime between October to December, which makes for a busy wedding schedule. Sometimes the Amish church will hold up to two or three in a single day!
After the bride’s parents have heard the couples plan to marry, they will plant hundreds of celery stalks in the early summer months. They will eat this celery many months later as a crucial part of the wedding ceremony. The ceremony is always held in the home of the wife’s parents – which can be tough since so many people show up.
Each wedding has a massive feast that can serve up 200-300 people, but there are usually leftovers. The newlywed couple will actually visit the homes of friends and relatives for the next few weeks at night, and only between Friday and Saturday. Sometimes this process can take several weeks, but at least they are able to cherish each and every wedding gift instead of getting them all at once. Most Christian weddings end with disappointment when they see how awful some of the gifts are – and almost none of them are homemade!