Amish 101: Phrases and Traditions

The cast of TLC's Breaking Amish.

This information was provided by people living and working in the Amish and Mennonite communities.

For the Amish and Mennonites, there are many traditions and regulations that come along with the faith. Identifying as Amish or Mennonite means ascribing to both a religion and a culture. And while it's not easy living without certain modern conveniences -- electricity, cars, computers -- a simpler way of life is a cornerstone of these faiths.

While some may look at these customs as restrictive, there are many wonderful qualities of the Amish and Mennonite lifestyles, and that's why so many of the followers lead happy, fulfilled lives. The rules that men, women and children follow -- we'll take a look at them in the next pages -- help moderate the community.

In the face of catastrophe, entire communities will band together. For instance, if a house or barn burns down, the men in the community rebuild it. The women provide food for all the workers. This kind of support is a great comfort to the Amish and Mennonites.

There are consequences for breaking or disobeying rules, though. For a minor offense, one could be shunned for six weeks. Those who choose to leave the Amish faith for any reason face severe consequences. The community will immediately shun the offenders, and even their families won't speak to them for years. When someone is shunned, no one is to ever speak that person's name. He or she is dead to the community and the church.

Amish beliefs and rules differ from sector to sector, and from community to community. They're dictated by the church in each community. Let's take a look at different groups within the Amish and Mennonite faiths -- Lancaster County Dutch in Pennsylvania, Ohio Amish and Mennonites -- and examine some traditions specific to each one.


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