My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Thursday, December 15, 2016

25 Facts? Part Two

This is a continuation of comments on an article I recently came across online entitled “25 Facts About the Amish That Everyone Should Know”—a well-meaning article filled with the typical misinformation about the Amish which is constantly floating around the internet...


Part one is here.


21.  Weddings Are A Simple Affair That Don’t Even Include Rings Or Flowers. 
     Amish weddings are typically held at the end of fall, and are devoid of anything that they deem too extravagant. Instead of flowers, they commonly use celery, and the bride may not even wear a ring as it represents vanity.

Yes, actual Amish wedding ceremonies are simple.  I’ve been to six or seven of them, and they consist of a regular three-hour Amish church service with the 15-minute wedding ceremony added at the end.   Celery?  That’s really funny and not true!—but I did drive a young Amish bride-to-be to Elkhart to place an order with a florist.  The flowers were table decorations, though—not carried by the bride.  It’s true that wedding rings are never worn.   

The photo accompanying this “fact” is interesting…  The clothing is not very accurate, and the preacher has a microphone!  A closer look indicates that this scene is part of a play.

20.  Most Amish Communities Speak At Least Three Languages. 
     Besides English, most Amish communities also speak German and what is known as Pennsylvania Dutch. They will use English in school and business, but speak German in church and Dutch for common daily activities.

The Amish use three languages, but not all three are spoken.  First they learn “Pennsylvania Dutch” (usually referred to as “Dutch”), which is a colloquial form of German.  It is spoken but not normally written.  Secondly, they learn English (both spoken and written) when they start school at about age seven.  Thirdly, they study German (the old High German used in their Bible and hymnbook) as a separate subject in school.  This Old German language is written but not normally spoken—church services are conducted in “Dutch.”

The photo accompanying this fact is strange…  I don’t know what language is on the sign, but the sign appears to be in front of a church building—and the Amish don’t have church buildings, nor do they have Sunday School.

19.  They’re Not Allowed To Wear Bright Colors Or Jewelry. 
     They wear the same plain clothes that tradition has dictated for many years. Amish are not allowed to wear bright colors or jewelry— not even to weddings!

The local Amish women’s dresses come in many cheerful colors, as do the men’s shirts. (Men’s pants, however, are dark and plain.)  Jewelry: not worn—not even wedding rings or watches.  It’s true, the clothes are plain, and they have changed very little in hundreds of years, and nothing much varies from outfit to outfit except the color.  Also, prints are not worn—solid colors only.  (Note:  Young people who have not yet joined the church are allowed much more latitude, and may be seen dressing like the local “English” kids.)

18.  Wedding Receptions Are Very Modest, As Is The Couple’s Wedding Night. 
     Guests mainly talk and offer their blessings to the new couple following a wedding ceremony. Then, the bride and groom spend their first official night together at the bride’s parent’s home.

I’ve been to several Amish weddings.  The wedding is always followed by a meal, and it is anything but modest.  Often, over the four sittings which take place over the course of the day, over a thousand meals are served!  Guests sit at tables and talk and eat, while the bridal party sit at the head table.  The fourth and last meal served that day is for the young people, who socialize and sing.  As for where the couple spends their wedding night—I do think it’s typically at the bride’s parents’ home.

As for the photo—I cannot imagine taking a can of spray paint to a new buggy worth thousands of dollars!  The color and style show that this particular buggy is a Lancaster, Pennsylvania buggy.

17.  The Amish Are Known For Their Beards, But Never Have Mustaches. 
     Amish men have beards, but no mustaches because of what the facial hair represents. Mustaches were once seen as a sign of wealth and military, and the communities wanted nothing to do with either.

This is mainly true.  Buttons and mustaches were common among soldiers back in the Old Country, and so the Amish avoided both, and still do.  Avoiding the military draft was a major reason the Amish left Europe and came to America in the 1700s and 1800s.


More next time in part three.

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