This February, WNED-TV will be airing two Amish-themed programs, beginning Monday, Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. with "Amish: American Experience" and "The Amish Shunned: American Experience." The Amish are everywhere in modern pop culture, there are reality shows, news stories, parodies in comedy, and even a professional wrestling gimmick. Just what is it about this group of people that we find so fascinating? Is it the fact that they live without the technology that you are using to read this? Perhaps it is the beards? Are we just fascinated with their general methods from the way they talk to the way they dress? To get you ready for your dose of Amish appreciation, here are some facts about the Amish.
Amish Culture is based on the Mennonite Faith, founded by Menno Simmons in the 1500s. The Amish split from the Mennonites and founded their own religion over what they perceived as a general lack of faith. They were largely located in Eastern Europe and eventually made their way to the Americas in the 1700’s.
The Amish have very specific rules to live by; violators of these codes can be shunned from the community. While these rules vary from Amish community to Amish community, they generally include the following:
· Men must grow beards and follow Hebrew Standards of dress; they do not grow mustaches because of the association of mustaches in the military.
· Women must cover themselves in plain clothing. Wedding gowns are generally purple.
· Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch typically; they learn English in schools as children.
· Modern conveniences such as cars, computers, telephones or dishwashers are banned from the Amish.
· Rumspringa, a time that teens and young adults are permitted to live without as many restrictions. This happens before their baptism. Rumspringa does not generally mean leaving the community though it can.
· Amish are not to be in photos in most cases.
· The Amish do not collect money from Social Security or Canada Pension Plans.
· Education is limited in Amish communities to around 8th grade. As there are different groups of Amish, there have been disputes over which way is the way that Amish should live their lives regarding their integration into American Culture. Some Amish wish to continue their education; others choose to keep the traditional method of stopping formal education early. A U.S. Supreme Court Case was even once brought in to determine whether or not it was legal for the Amish to end education prior to high school. Most Amish groups choose to remain away from politics though some do vote and participate in “public life.”
Regardless of why we’re fascinated with the Amish, you should get to know the Amish a bit better by tuning in to see "Amish: American Experience" at 8 p.m. and "The Amish Shunned: American Experience" on February 4 or on February 7 at 7 p.m. on ThinkBright and Well.