Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

10 Fun Facts about the Amish

  • Kim Woodard Osterholzer Author of A Midwife in Amish Country
  • 2018 14 May
10 Fun Facts about the Amish

People are fascinated by the Amish way of life. There are several aspects about the culture that are foreign to modern everyday life and make people wonder: Who are the Amish? Maybe it’s the fact that they live in small communities out of the eye of the secular world, or perhaps it’s the fact that they use horses and buggies as a form of transportation! One thing’s for sure…the Amish are interesting folk with an extraordinary culture.

Here are 10 fun facts about the Amish you want to know:

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1. They read a “high German” version of the Bible

1. They read a “high German” version of the Bible

The Amish are Christians who derive from the Anabaptist Movement. They read a “high German” version of the Bible, which is also known as the Martin Luther Bible. Attempts to create a Bible in Pennsylvania-Deutsch have been made, but since this language is typically only spoken it has been hard to establish a written version. So, the Amish have stuck with the “high German” version of the Bible that they know and love.

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2. Amish people speak two languages: English and Pennsylvania-Deutsch

2. Amish people speak two languages: English and Pennsylvania-Deutsch

Amish children grow up learning Pennsylvania-Deutsch as their first language. At the age of seven they start school, where they learn English. Pennsylvania-Deutsch is a version of German mixed with English. The Pennsylvania-Deutsch language is important to the Amish because it helps them stand out from the outside world. 

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3. They don’t use electricity!

3. They don’t use electricity!

A big part of the Amish religion is that they don’t use electricity or telephones! They are a very simple people. They wear plain clothing, have uncut hair, and wear bonnets and hats. This way of life is to combat things that are considered by Amish culture to be sins. The Amish believe that the outside world is highly countered towards Christian values, and they do not want to participate in sin by allowing views counter to their Christian beliefs to encompass their everyday life.

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4. Horse and buggy is their best mode of transportation

4. Horse and buggy is their best mode of transportation

Besides walking on foot or riding a bicycle the Amish often get around by using horse and buggy. Not only is the horse and buggy an Amish indicator, but it is also a way for Amish people to distance themselves from the outside world and slow down the pace of fast-moving life. 

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5. Amish children finish school at the eighth grade

5. Amish children finish school at the eighth grade

It may appear strange that Amish children finish formal schooling in the eighth grade, but in Amish culture it is considered practical and revolves around religious views. A big part of the Amish way of life is agricultural labor and craftsmanship. For these skills to be learned, a lot of time and hands-on learning is necessary rather than a formal education. Along with this, the Amish also believe higher education can oppose Christian beliefs and values. 

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6. Women are never allowed to preach

6. Women are never allowed to preach

Amish women are not allowed to preach or play any official role in the Church, and they are also not allowed to do a lot of other things. For example, after being married they are typically not allowed to work but expected to stay and tend to the home. It may appear like Amish women are oppressed, but they are highly valued and respected within Amish society. They play a vital role in marriage, maintaining the household, and motherhood. Husbands often seek out their wives’ advice and wishes.

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7. They are a hardworking yet prayerful people

7. They are a hardworking yet prayerful people

The average American works forty hours a week, but so does the average Amish person. Looking at Amish culture is quite interesting because the way that they work and what they do is so different from us. Most Amish people are up at the crack of dawn and end their day after dark. They are relentlessly hardworking, and the lack of technology and their outdated equipment plays a role in this. Their hard work ties into their prayer and is a way for them to promote their Christian values. 

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8. Only adults can join the Amish Church

8. Only adults can join the Amish Church

The reasoning behind this is because people can be drawn to the Amish Church for the  wrong reasons and realize later that Christian values are the core of the culture, not just a  simpler way of life. While this is true, it is very rare that an outsider would join the Amish Church. People who do become Amish converts are also less likely to stay a member of the Church. 

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9. The Amish believe that if you are scared during pregnancy, your baby will be born with a birthmark

9. The Amish believe that if you are scared during pregnancy, your baby will be born with a birthmark

Just like any culture, Amish culture has its superstitions too! Other superstitions or old wives’ tales (as they like to call them) are: if you reach your arms over your head to hang clothes on the line or wash windows in the last trimester of pregnancy your baby will turn breech, or if you don’t feed your baby a sip of cold water right after birth he or she will get a belly ache.

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10. The Amish don’t take pictures

10. The Amish don’t take pictures

They base this practice off the Bible verse Exodus 20:4: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” However, it is not entirely accurate that all Amish people do not take pictures. A distinction for many Amish people is made between posed and candid photos. Some Amish people do not mind taking photos or being in film if the photos are candid. However, more traditional Amish folks tend to stay away from picture-taking all together. 

This content was adapted from her new book A Midwife in Amish Country: Celebrating God’s Gift of Life available in stores or on Amazon.com.

Kim Woodard Osterholzer, CPM, RM is a homebirth midwife of fifteen years with an active practice in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Kim has attended the births of more than 500 babies, including the births of her grandchildren. You can find her on social media @KimOsterholzer or at her website, KimOsterholzer.com.

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