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The Amish. History, Life and Customs

Referat / Aufsatz (Schule) 2001 2 Seiten

Didaktik - Englisch - Landeskunde



1.History of the Amish people

- roots in Mennonite community, a part of the Anabaptist movement in Europe at the time of Reformation
- 1693 Jacob Amman, a Swiss bishop, broke from the Mennonite church, his followers were called “Amish“
- persecution in Switzerland and the Netherlands made the Amish scatter into many countries in order to find religious freedom
- the Amish settled in Pennsylvania as a part of William Penn’s “holy experiment“ of religious tolerance
- the most famous Amish group are the Pennsylvania Dutch, other groups are in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio

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photo from the film “Whitness“

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a horse buggy with warning triangle

2.Amish life and customs

-men usually dress in a plain, dark colorod suit,

women wear a plain colored dress with long sleeves, bonnet and apron

- they speak a German dialect (Pennsylvania Dutch) usually, during worship they use Standard German, children learn English at school
- Amish children visit schools run by Amish, formal education beyond grade eight is discouraged
- the father is the head of the household, his wife is subordinate, children grow up with identifying the parent of their sex
- they do not use electricity, they use gas
- religious services take place in the homes of members biweekly on Sunday
- they do not collect social security benefits, unemployment insurance or welfare
- the Supreme Court ruled that Amish who are self-employed don’t have to pay Social Security tax
- they don't take photographs based on The Second Commandment:
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything in the earth...“
- funerals are conducted in the home without an eulogy, flower decorations, or other display, the casket is plain, a simple tombstone is errected
- they have horse-buggies instead of cars
- most Amish are farmers
-·Amish women are famous for making quilts

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Amish farm

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Amish school-building

3. Amish beliefs

- two basic principles: Gelassenheit (e.g. work satisfies more than consumption) and Ordnung (e.g. hierarchical structures in family)
- 1527 some Anabaptist leaders held a secret conference, where a declaration of “brotherly union“ was made, The Schleitheim Articles, which captured the Swiss Anabaptist’s view of a Christian life in community
- still a basic guideline for the Amish today
-follow a strict and literal interpretation of the bible (e.g. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the father is not in him.“ this explains why they choose to live simply and without fanfare)


-they remain separate from the rest of the world
-they reject involvement with military or warfare
-a member who falls into sinful action is to be excommunicated, other Amish should avoid him, they call this shunning or Meidung an excommunicated person must leave the community, he can only try to join another Amish community
-baptism of adults(between twelve and sixteen years), children visit worship with their parents
-vow of obedience to god
-closeness to nature(e. g. they refuse to use electricity or cars)
-life should be as simple as possible
-everything they do must make sense(e.g. Amish children don’t learn geography or physics at school because this is abstract thinking)
- their central aim in life is to serve god and to get as much children as possible

4. Amish problems and conflicts

- education: Amish are against formal schooling after 8th grade, this conflicted with many state laws 1972 Supreme Court ruled that the states could not constitutionally force Amish to send their children to public high schools
- inherited disorders because of their limited gen pool(e.g. metabolic disorders)
- accidents between horse buggies and cars on highways
- there are some prejudices about the Amish, they are thought to be “archaic“

5.Developement and changes of the Amish situation

- from the oldest group the Old Order Amish split two other groups:
- the more liberal Beachy Amish Church and the New Order Amish
- nowadays, Amish people seem to become a "tourist attraction“, so for some groups it has already become their main income€commercialization of the Amish; economic advantages, decreasing the gap between the Amish and the outside world

6.Amish“Verhoodled“ English Phrases

-Go throw the cows over the fence some hay.
-Take this road till it gets all, then turn the corner around left.

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McCarrick, Judith: Exploring the United States, 1985,

Brogan, Hugh: Longman history of the United States of America, 1985


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Titel: The Amish. History, Life and Customs