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Amish in a Modern World

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Amish in a Modern World

Debra Galton

ANT 101

Lucy Lee Brown

March 5, 2012

Amish in a Modern World

The Amish people are a private people who have found a way to survive in the modern day. The Amish culture is a closely knit community. Their farming and trade skills help to provide for their families and give back to their community. They do not let the outside world influence how they dress, educate or practice religion. Their beliefs and values have remained strong. The Amish have been in America for over two centuries. They have retained their own language as well as culture.

The Amish do not depend on modern technology to plant and harvest crops. They remain an "agriculturally-oriented people, who foster large families and seek self-sufficiency." (O'Neil, 1997, para 12) Their culture frowns upon the use of machinery for farming as well as for transportation. They depend on their knowledge of the land as well as each other to get the job done. The families work long hours planting, maintaining and harvesting their crops during planting season with the use of their horses and horse drawn plows. "During crop planting and harvest seasons, all family members help in the fields." (Ennis, 2010, para 6). Everyone does their fair share of work as a family and even as a community.

Social gatherings are also an important part of the Amish community. "Cornhusking parties and Sunday evening barn singing with square dancing" entertain both the young and old. (Ennis, 2010, para 1) Teenagers even enjoy "a warm summer evening gathering at a farm for husking, talking and laughing." (Ennis, 2010)

It was thought that because the Amish resist modern technology for their farming that they would not be as productive as their non-Amish neighbors. The Amish have been "praised for being among the best farmers." (Cosgel, 1993, P321). They are also the first to "adopt and even invent, new developments in technology." (Cosgel, 1993, P 321)

Not all Amish men work directly in the fields, depending on the need of a young man on their family farm and/or the availability of land to start their own farms, they may work at a trade such as blacksmith, carpenter, furniture makers or butchers, which are important to the farm work as well as planting and harvesting crops. "Work should be communal, intertwined with the community, and never a source of individual pride and exhibition." (O'Neil, 1997, para 14) Every member of a family and community are never idle, always having some type of work that needs to be done. The belief is "the land keeps them closer to God. The Amish grows, butchers, cans or bakes most of their own food." (Ennis, 2010, para 3).

Everyone is of importance in the Amish community, from the very young to the very old. "There is meaningful work and responsibility for all ages. Everyone is important and needed." (O'Neil, 1997, para 18). They are always willing to help each other out. A whole community will get together to put together a house or a barn for their own community as well as non-community people. When a date is set for construction, "hundreds of men gather to supply the labor" to build a new structure. (Frischette, 1997, para 19) "The Amish look out for neighbors outside the family. (Fischette, 1997, para 19) The men will all pitch in to build the structure, while the women are busy preparing and cooking as part of a celebration for a job well done. After the noon meal is finished, the men return to their building and the women gather together to quilt.

Even the harvesting season has an impact on when weddings are performed. Amish weddings are an important social event, "which traditionally takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays in November, at the home of the bride. Wedding ceremonies, like regular worship services or meetings, are held in homes." (Fischetti, 1997, para 35).

The average age for marriage is between the ages of "22 and 25. Divorce and birth control are taboo." (Fischetti, 1997, para 36). Adhering to tradition, the Amish still marry in "new but ordinary Sunday clothing. The Amish are the only ethnic group that continues to celebrate weddings exclusively after harvest." (Fischetti, 1997, para 36).

The bride-to-be is given a bridal shower by her friends. "The purpose of this party is to let friends "shower" the bride with useful items for her new household, such as tablecloths or dishes." (Fischetti, 1997, para 39) The new home may also be furnished through a dowry. "To the Amish this is a collection of objects needed to furnish a household and to continue the family business." ((Fischetti, 1997, para 40)

Following the wedding, the woman's covering goes from black to white. Men will not cut their beards any longer as they did when they were single. (Fischetti, 1997). There will be no honeymoon. The new couple will take their place in the community in their new home, starting their own family and planting and harvesting their own crops.

Children are taught from very young the importance of their religion and hard work. Amish parents spend a lot of time educating and molding their children to the Amish customs. The Amish children learn "obethence as toddlers when they sit through four hour preaching services. By the age of 4, they help their parents with chores." (Ennis, 2010, para 4). As everyone is expected to help out on the farm, "everyone rises at 5:00 a.m. School age children do their chores before walking to Amish school." (Ennis, 2010, para 4) They are given chores according to age. "The younger children bring wood into the kitchen." (Ennis, 2010, para 4). They are taught from an early age that hard work is a way of life and how important farming is to their culture.

"Children learn to garden at a young age, helping their mother's plant and gather the family vegetables. Girls learn to can and dry fruits and vegetables. Often by the age 10, they can bake bread." (Ennis, 2010, 7) This helps to teach the children how to farm as well as give them a sense of responsibility and prepare them someday for their home.

The children are taught in a one room school house and are educated up to the 8th grade, as it is felt that there is no need for further education. They are taught the fundamentals felt necessary to get them through life to include "reading, writing, English, mathematics, geography, history,

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