For people residing outside of Lancaster County, the Amish can seem like a mystery. Why do they reject the use of some modern technology? What do they believe? Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions with brief answers. It is impossible to summarize any culture in such a short text, but we’d like to give you some basics.
When did the Amish begin?
They trace their roots back to Switzerland in 1525 during the Anabaptist movement. The emphasis for Anabaptists at the time was voluntary adult baptism – as well as a church that the state did not control. The Amish remained a part of this movement until 1693 when they formed their own group under the leadership of Jakob Ammann.
What language do the Amish speak?
A majority of the Amish speak the Pennsylvania German dialect that is commonly referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch. A few communities favor a Swiss dialect. For most in the community, English is learned during school and is their second language.
Where do the Amish live?
Currently, there are communities in as many as 31 states and several Canadian provinces. The vast majority,roughly 63%, reside in the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. In total, about 2,260 local congregations exist – called church districts. Each of these districts typically includes between 20 and 40 families. Pennsylvania has both the largest and the oldest population of Amish in the United States.
How many Amish are there?
In North America, there are estimated to be about 308,000 adults and children. Since children make up more than half of most communities, it is likely that there is about 138,000 baptized adult church members.
Are there different kinds of Amish?
Yes. When referring to “the” Amish, most people are actually referring to many different affiliations, each with its own distinct culture. Dress styles, technology restrictions, occupations, and more all rely heavily upon individual Amish groups.
If you would like to learn more about the Amish, take part in one of the many experiences offered at Plain and Fancy Farm. This includes the Amish Experience where you can interact with the Amish culture first hand!