In August, I decided that I needed a break! My son suggested I go to a spa. I truly wanted to go where I’d never been before and told him that one of my goals was to visit Amish country, (visit their website). Everything that I had read about the civilization seemed inviting and I thought that I would benefit from the relaxing style and simplicity of being about their simple and relaxing culture.
Bird in Hand is a rural village with a population of 300 people but the area is a major drawing card for tourists. In actuality, Pennsylvania boosts earning $1.8 billion each year in tourism, most which can be attributed to summer guests in Amish communities.
1. Religion – Like most groups, the Amish left Europe because of religious persecution. It must have been quite an adventure to leave their homes and families so as to travel to the new land of America with the hope of securing freedom for their beliefs.
2. Community – There are not many Amish groups in Canada. They primarily live in Ontario, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana. Although they live in single-family houses and on family farms, they are extremely close knit.
3. Self-support – They collaborate and share their work, religion and social activities with others in the area. They do not vote or believe in insurance but rather meet the needs of the vulnerable without external support.
4. Rules – Every community has specific rules which their baptized members must follow. None of them use electricity, technology or vehicles in their lives. Though they are a branch of the Mennonites who tend to focus more on the Bible, the Amish tend to concentrate on rules made in their districts which are enforced by their preferred Bishops.
5. Family – Children are viewed as a gift from God. Consequently, families are big and frequently include six or more siblings who are close in age. Relatives usually live within buggy-drive space so there is inter-generational contact.
6. Language – Th
e Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch in the home. Their kids don’t learn English until they start school which they attend until they’ve reached the grade eight level.
7. Living off the Land – In the past, Amish were primarily farmers who believed in hard work where fields were tilled and crops harvested using horses. Corn, soybeans, tobacco, and cauliflower in addition to garden produce attracted income but currently only twenty per cent of the Amish have farming as their principal source of income. Some have moved from their original homesteads to areas where tourism isn’t as prevalent in order to protect their distinctive identity.
8. Skills – The Amish are experts at finding niches and filling them. Today, many have businesses that sell their lovely handmade furniture, garden sheds, quilts, and meals.
9. Simplicity – The Amish foster humility and this is evidenced in their unadorned homes, uniformity of dress and patterns. Lovely!
10. Forgiveness – The Amish strongly believe and practice the belief that the person who doesn’t forgive is the person who suffers. From bir
th they are taught that God forgave them and they are to do the same without question. That doesn’t mean that they don’t feel powerful emotions like anger, hurt or grief. They do, but let go of resentment and bitterness quickly and find it hard to understand that others may not understand that this is simply common sense.
The Amish are not perfect! They are human. They don’t like the notion that some”Englishers” have had an inaccurate and negative impression of them through movies and television.
Staying in an Amish community has given me some insight into how they might have remained so consistent and loyal to their values for over three hundred years while all of the world around them has changed!