Amish Life FAQ’s
Welcome to Amish Life FAQs where you can get answers to your specific questions about the Amish Lifestyle. If you have not already done so, please read our pages, Visiting The Amish, The Amish Lifestyle and The Amish Buggy. Information and pictures found there have been provided by America’s Amish Country. If you do not find the answer to your specific question, please “AskAmishLife (at) Amish.net” and we will pose your question to one of several Amish friends and acquaintances or coordinate a response with an Amish person via THE BUDGET in Holmes County, Ohio, and post their response in our FAQ. While we are able to communicate with THE BUDGET via e-mail and telephone, we are not able to do so with the Amish, of course, and so the reply may take several days to several weeks. Please check back frequently for updates!
Click each question to reveal the answer
Why don't the Amish have their own website at Amish.Com?
The Amish do not use the Internet themselves personally or for business purposes. Englisher neighbors or entrepreneurs operate websites that sell crafts, furniture and quilts that the Amish make. Amish.Net provides Internet surfers with information about the Amish lifestyle, and offers a service for merchants, including some Amish owned businesses, to list their businesses that sell Amish Made goods and provide tourism services for visitors to America’s Amish Country.
Do the Amish celebrate Christmas?
The Amish do exchange gifts and Celebrate Christmas on December 25th and Old Christmas (Epiphany) on January 6th. They visit with family and friends. They do not, however, decorate as Englishers do. Answer coordinated by America’s Amish Country II.
Why don't the Amish want to be photographed?
In addition to the scriptural admonition to not make “graven images” of themselves, the fact of posing is most of the issue. The Amish do not want to draw attention to themselves by posing for a photo or image. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET
How many countries do the Amish live in today?
The Amish live in 28 states of the United States (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, Maine, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Montana, Washington, Arkansas, Colorado, Mississippi and Nebraska) and the Province of Ontario, Canada) Data provided by THE BUDGET and Courtesy of America’s Amish Country II.
What is the "day-in-the-life" of a typical Amish man (husband) and woman (wife)?
He would get up about five a.m., go to the barn and feed the animals, milk the cows and process the milk to the cans for truck delivery to the local dairy. He would then join the family for prayer and breakfast. Depending on the season, he would work in the fields, preparing the fields for planting (late winter), planting the crops in the Spring or harvesting the crops in late Summer or Fall. He usually works from sunup to sunset in the fields for planting and harvesting with a break for lunch. In the evening, the cows would need to be milked again.
She would also get up about five a.m., help with the milking, prepare breakfast, and if laundry day (usually on Monday) get the gasoline motor started on her wringer washing machine do the laundry, hanging them out on the line to dry. She would work in the kitchen garden, preparing it for planting (with help from her husband), or harvesting vegetables for meals. If there are children, she would also get them ready for school, including packing lunch boxes, etc. Daytime household duties would be done, i.e., ironing, washing dishes by hand, baking, and cooking lunch and dinner. Depending on the season, she would can fruit and vegetables, making jams and jellies, etc. She will also sew clothes for herself, her husband and their children.
Both work schedules will vary according to the season and weather.
Of course, on Sundays, the family attends church in their District or in a neighboring District. They rise early, feed the animals and milk the cows, prepare lunch and leave for church about 7:30 a.m. They typically spend the day visiting with either church members or their nearby family members. They return home late afternoon to tend to the animals.
On Sunday and several times during the week, they may visit in the evening with neighbors or family members.
What is the "day-in-the-life" of a typical young Amish girl or boy?
They go to their local school if of school age; they also do chores around the house and farm and have play time much like Englisher children.
Do the Amish make their own clothing?
Yes, the lady of the house generally sews the clothes for herself and her family. A lot of sewing is done in August, getting clothes together for the children to go to school. She makes her coverings and bonnet, dresses and aprons to go over the dress as well as capes.
She sews pants and shirts for her husband and boys. Men’s wool hats are bought and while most men’s straw hats are bought, some Amish make their own straw hats. Men’s Sunday suits are generally made by an Amish tailor who sews them to make a living. There are also some stores that sell “ready-made” Amish clothes for those who want to buy them. These items are usually made by Amish seamstresses and placed in the store to sell.
Underclothing is generally bought although some more traditional families may make their own. Some gloves are purchased, usually heavy work gloves, while some a knitted. Both socks and Ladies hosiery are bought from stores.
Why don't Amish groups wear colored clothes?
Actually, Amish do wear colored clothes. They don’t just wear white and/or black. Ladies wear shades of blue, green, red, brown, etc. Granted most colors are probably the darker tones of the color wheel but color nevertheless. Men also wear shades of all the above in their shirt color. Pants are brown, navy or black (generally). Little boys and girls may wear lighter shades of the above colors. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET
Why do Amish women sometimes wear white hats and sometimes black hats?
The Amish women wear white covering if they are married; black coverings are worn to church only by unmarried girls. The black hat is actually a bonnet and is worn over the covering when going to town or other public places or events. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
How do the Amish discipline their children when they misbehave?
Amish parents handle discipline much like other societies, by taking away privileges, discussions, scoldings and spankings. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
What is the term used in adolescent years for Amish youth who "sow their wild oats"?
The term is is known as “rumm-shpringa” which translates to “run around”. Amish youth may experiment with aspects of the English world during this time which occurs before they join the church and marry. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET and America’s Amish Country II
How can I join the Amish community and become an Amish person?
Anyone can live in an Amish community by simply moving to where the Amish live in a specific area. If a person wants to join the Amish church, the person must move to an Amish community, live there for a length of time (which could be years), accepting the Amish and the Amish accepting you (it is really a mutual issue), being willing to live within the rules of the Church (Ordnung). To become a member of the Amish church requires a genuine religious commitment which is much more than just moving to an Amish community and living the Plain lifestyle of not using electricity, cars, telephones, etc. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET
Would it be possible to communicate with someone about joining the Amish?
Please refer to the answer above. Additionally, the more knowledge about the Amish, i.e., reading books about the Amish lifestyle and their beliefs, visiting Amish communities, etc., the better one may learn if they would truly want to join with and become Amish. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET
How do the Amish justify using things that they do not have for themselves, i.e., phones, cars, freezers, etc?
This question is much easier to understand if one is born into the Amish lifestyle. The Amish way of life is a chosen one. The Amish are not forced to live as they do. It is a matter of “drawing a line” at having things. When an Amish person has someone drive them somewhere in a car, they don’t just hop in and go for a ride; there is a purpose to their trip, i.e., to go a distance to the Doctor, to visit family members at a distance, etc. The same goes for the phone and freezer. An Amish person would not just “talk” on the phone. They would use the phone for a specific utilitarian purpose, i.e., to order supplies for the farm, to call the Doctor or notify a distant family member of a death or major illness in the family. The call would be a conversation of purpose. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
When a child is born into the Amish life that has a special need, such as learning disability, speech and/or hearing problem, how are they taught?
They either go to schools or learning centers where there is a provision for those with learning disabilities. Some go to public schools, where, if they are deaf, they are taught by a teacher specializing in teaching the deaf, and are main streamed into the classroom. There are also Special Education teacher in the local parochial schools. Older adults may go to area “workshops” where they do work on a limited basis. They learn sign language, do speech therapy with a therapist. Family members also learn how to assist in therapy at home. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
What are some of the problems that the Amish face in modern society, health and lifestyle?
The problems are the same as anyone else for health and modern society. Specificially to the Amish, having to deal with society more and more because of a lack of available farm land and working closer with the “English” does add to the stress of maintaining a separate life. The Amish lifestyle has made changes, just like everyone else. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
Is it true that the Amish paint the front door of their homes blue to show that they have a daughter available to be wed?
No. The Amish live in large, comfortable houses that are painted white. They would not “decorate” their front door and they would not advertise that a daughter is available for marriage. Amish courtship is a rather private event. Amish youth socialize in groups whenever possible at an evening youth gathering after chores are finished, Sunday afternoon gatherings after church and for the traditional Sunday evening hymn singings. Relationships that lead to marriage usually are formed during these activities. Open dating does not take place but the boy and girl have time to talk after church services, at barn raisings and frolics, picnics and youth activities such as volleyball and baseball. While a girl will not ride with a boy to a Sunday evening singing, she will ride home with him afterwards in the dark. The boy will visit at her house only at night after the parents have gone to bed. This courtship, usually conducted in secret, has become more open with New Order Amish in recent years. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET and courtship information provided by America’s Amish Country II.
If a child is born in an Amish community, at home, do they file for a birth certificate?
The requirements for a birth certificate for a child born at home is no different than that for a child delivered in a hospital in the United States. The attending Doctor or Midwife, whether in a hospital or at home, must complete and file the paperwork for a birth certificate. Answered coordinated by THE BUDGET.
What is the average life expectancy of Amish men and women and what is the number one cause of death in the Amish communities?
It is the same as for all persons in the United States, no different than for other groups of people. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET [Editor: According to US Government Statistics, the average life expectancy for Caucasian men is 74.3 and for Caucasian women is 79.9. The leading cause of death is heart disease.]
How do the friends of the Amish get to know each other if the Amish don't really interact with the modern public?
They do interact with their neighbors and people in town. In fact, the Amish often develop strong friendships with their neighbors when they earn their trust just as with Englishers. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET
How would someone outside the USA or an Amish community become acquainted with an Amish person?
A person could visit an Amish area and talk to the Amish at roadside stands or stay in a Bed and Breakfast in an Amish area or where the Amish host visitors in their home. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET
Jodi Picoult just wrote a book about the Amish called "Plain Truth" that was published by Pocket Books. How has it been received in the Amish communities? What kind of feedback has there been to her work of fiction?
The Amish read fictionalized stories about themselves which are purchased from religious or secular publishers they trust. It really depends on how the fiction story is written. There are some which have been written that are pretty farfetched from the truth and the Amish do not read these books. With respect to Ms. Picoult’s book, our Amish contact has not heard of her book. [It should be noted, however, that our contact did indicate a willingness to possibly read the book and provide a response.] Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET
I am from Germany and I'm currently studying English and Biology. My task in English is to find something about higher education of the Amish and to find about what the US Supreme Court ruled in 1972.
The Amish children do not attend formal schooling past the eighth grade. Amish parents provide training from an early age through young adults, teaching them the skills necessary to be farmers, or other skills, i.e., carpenters and parents. This training prepares them much better for their life as an Amish adult than what they would receive in formal schooling. The issue of compulsory school attendance until age 16 was decided as the result of the arrest and conviction by Greene County, Wisconsin, authorities, of three fathers (two Amish and one Mennonite). The United States Supreme Court in the case of Wisconsin vs. Yoder ruled in l972 that it was unconstitutional to force the Amish into high school. You will find excellent information on the subject of Amish schooling and the Supreme Court Decision at the website of the group who defended the Amish, The National Committee for Amish Religious Freedom, headed by the Rev. William C. Lindholm, Chairman.
I am interested in starting a business to transport members of our closest Amish communities on a paid contractual basis. I would like to know if there is a market for my business.
If someone lives in an Amish community and wants to do taxi work, he just needs to get the word out to them. He should have a van if possible as with the large size of Amish families, they usually have quite a few family members to transport and also can divide the cost of the trip. After he gets started, word of mouth can supply more business! Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.[Please note that this answer is based on the Amish view of “hauling Amish”, i.e., setting up a taxi service and gaining the trust of the Amish as a reliable taxi service operator, often called “hauling Amish”, for those trips that the Amish cannot take with their horse-drawn buggy such as a large group attending a wedding, a funeral or barn raising in another state or a long distance away. It should be further noted that anyone who decides to operate such taxi service for compensation, must be fully licensed, insured, etc., and in compliance with their state’s (or province’s) codes. For instance, in the State of Pennsylvania, “Anyone wishing to provide passenger transportation between points in the Commonwealth of PA for compensation must first file an application with this Commission for authority to begin operations. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PA PUC) is an independent administrative agency established by the Legislature in 1937 to supervise and regulate all public utilities doing business in the Commonwealth of PA. Passenger transportation carriers, such as motor vehicles, meet the definition of a public utility.” Information provided by Motor Carrier Services and Enforcement, Bureau of Transportation and Safety, PA Public Utility Commission.]
Do the Amish consider themselves born again Christians? How would they describe their relationship to God? Do they study the Bible or use additional prayer books?
Yes, the Amish are of the Christian faith and would be born again by accepting Christ as their Savior. Their relationship to God is the same as any other Christian would relate. The Bible is the main study book. The Amish do use a prayer book in church services and some would also use this in the home. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
Do the Amish believe that Christ is the Son of God and that he died on the cross for their sins and salvation?
How do the Amish believe that they receive eternal life in Heaven? Do they believe that it is possible for them to have assurance of their salvation?
The Amish believe that they get to Heaven by believing on Jesus as their personal Savior (as according to the Bible). They believe that it is possible to have assurance of salvation…but may not say so, but express hope for such (everything in life seems to “be the will of God.”). Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
Some time ago I heard that Amish women who make quilts make an intentional error to show their humility. Is this true?
Not really. Probably the “error” may have been a lack of the same material or color to finish the quilt, more so than the intentional piecing of an “error”. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
Do Amish women like to use the older style hand or treadle sewing machine or do they like to update to the modern electric ones?
Most use the treadle sewing machine. Some may use battery powered sewing machines. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET
Do the Amish make dolls with black faces?
I have never seen any. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
Do the Amish go for health care services? How do they deal with technological advances of health care? Do the Amish allow the Doctors to go all out when they are ill or do they place restrictions on medical care provided? Do they believe in immunizations?
The Amish use local doctors, dentists, eye doctors, etc., and will go to specialists and hospitals as needed. They make use of advances in health care that are used in hospitals, etc. They generally try home remedies for ailments first before going to a doctor or the hospital. They also are inclined to go to Mexico for major treatments because of the cost of medications. [Editor’s note: The Amish do not participate in medical or insurance plans and instead pay for all medical costs themselves.] The children do get immunizations (although not all may do so just as not all Englishers may do so either). Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
Do the Amish women seek help when it comes to child birth?
Amish women may have a doctor deliver their baby in an area hospital. Some areas have Birthing Centers which are staffed by local doctors and/or midwifes and have their babies there. Others will have trained midwifes in their area who will deliver their baby in their home. It is usually a trained person, not just a family member. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
The husband seems to be a very passive individual. The couples seem to get along real well. Is what we see just a face they put on in public, or the way they are?
People are people, Amish or not. Most would get along well, although humans all have difficulties and personality issues need to be worked out. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
How do Amish ladies cloth diaper their babies? How do they make their own?
Amish ladies make diapers with birdseye diaper cloth or diaper flannel which they hem the edges. They may also use “Pampers”, especially when traveling or in church. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
Do the Amish speak German or Dutch?
Neither, they speak Pennsylvania Dutch, a German dialect. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
Do the Amish participate in local, state or national elections?
Yes, they will participate in local and/or state elections if it has a direct bearing on an issue about which they are concerned. They do not participate in National elections since they are not members of the political parties. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
How do the Amish control change?
There is change and has always been, even among the Amish lifestyle. Change is controlled by the people, usually with a district or group by a voice vote being taken. The church leaders do not have the only voice, members do, too. One change in one area is in the use of milking machines for farmers. Their use was okayed if that if farming was a means of livelihood, then with the new regulations imposed by local health officials, the change should be made. Of course, the milking machines can only be used to milk cows which would be quite different than, say electricity, which while it could be used for a specific good thing, it also has the potential for things not so good. Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.
For additional information about change in the Amish lifestyle, please see this Time magazine article.
Can you tell me the significance, if any, of the blue curtains used by the Amish at Arthur, Illinois.
I don’t think that there is any significance. It may just be that the ladies in the community all like blue or perhaps the fabric was on sale! Answer coordinated by THE BUDGET.