AMISH LIFE: HAPPINESS IS IN SIMPLE THINGS
O Brave Old World
To understand where they all come from, let us have a retrospective look. So, imagine the 17th century: pirate ships are prowling the oceans; palaces are ruled by backroom plots, Rembrandt creates his masterpieces, opera and ballet theatres open in big cities, Newton quarrels with Hooke, and the Christian world finally turns into Europe. Revolution in minds, science and culture. Can you imagine it? This is where the story of the Amish has its roots.
While Galileo was re-trying to prove that the Earth was round, and the progress was quickly spreading through the lands of the Old World, some preacher from Alsace decided: everything is permissible to me, but not everything is useful. Being a man of strict views and strong convictions, he immediately established his own church. Which, it is worth noting, not only followed the laws of the Scripture, though was very committed to a literal interpretation of the Bible. People liked it. Since at birth the preacher was given the name of Jacob Amman, his followers were called Amish, and the church got the same name. Followers of strict ideology settled throughout Switzerland and Alsace, leading a peaceful and quiet life of farmers... Until Louis XIV came to power. The monarch was determined: first, he started the war, and then he annexed Alsace to France, and, having decided that they had no place on this "feast of life ", he expelled the Amish to… where would you think? Behind the ocean - to the New World. That is how they, in fact, got to America. To date, most of the Amish settled in Pennsylvania and northern Canada. After more than three centuries, two hundred emigrated families turned into a three hundred thousand population, and a single stream split into eight different subgroups. The most famous and canonical of which is the Old Order Amish. We are going to tell about them.
"For I have learned to be content with what I have"
The guiding star in the world of "harmful temptations" for these people is set of religious rules called the Ordnung. It controls almost the entire life of the community. Since the "right" Old Order Amish "has learned to be content with what he has", modern technology in their community is unacceptable or very limited. For instance, you will not see any Amish with a smartphone, but next to houses there are telephone booths for important outgoing calls – they did not get accustomed to keep line busy chatting with each other all night long. The Amish also live without electricity, automobiles, agricultural machinery and even... bicycles (although the latter is still available, but look more like scooters). The same is with household appliances. If you suddenly noticed in the Amish house a refrigerator or a stove, then they work on gas or are connected to accumulators. Otherwise, the "stray" member of community will be punished: from cold shoulder to expulsion from the community. However, even here there are exceptions. In a number of cases, it is possible to mitigate all these "non-adoption", so as not to lead to suffering: people with disabilities can use electric strollers. The only thing which is strictly forbidden is cameras for personal photos.
The rules of the Ordnung certainly influenced the relations of the Old Order Amish with society. First, they do not pay social security. Because they rely solely on "their people". Whatever Amish needs (from the construction of a new house to care of an old grandfather), the community will always help. Secondly, they do not do military service and do not have protection even in court - like the Buddhist and most Anabaptists, the Amish are pacifists. Thirdly, the passports of these amazing people have no photos, that absolutely does not bother anyone – they never cross the country's borders.
Do you like celery? They just adore it. If you suddenly get the opportunity to visit the Amish wedding, then you will not only have to try it (as a traditional meal), but you will also see it in vases throughout the house - this day celery is used as an ornament, instead of flowers. However, wedding ceremony and subsequent festivities are usually simple. After spending a weekend on a visit to relatives who were present at the wedding, the young couple plunges into everyday cares: work and improvement of the new family. This institution is very important for the community, since family provides each member with a status, a large part of education and everything necessary for a full life. In addition, it is believed that every couple must have many children since it is pleasing to the God.
By the way, about children. The Amish have a peculiar tradition called Rumspringa. It consists in giving the young generation the right to choose: to remain in the community, professing the nonconformist lifestyle and religion of parents, or to leave outside the community on their own. In the second case, any connection with family stops and it is almost impossible to get back. Nevertheless, a teenager can try everything that modern society offers, and decide whether he wants to be baptized as an Amish or not. It is remarkable: almost everyone chooses the first.
As for the "resignation", here the orders are also simple: in communities there are special "grandfather homes", where pensioners can quietly settle down together, they receive the necessary care and support communication with their family. In addition, sometimes, if they feel like going out, they can even visit the noisy rural festivities. Isn’t it utopia?
Mirror, mirror on the wall…
Meanwhile, the Ordnung defines not only the home conduct of behaviour, but even how community members shall look. For instance, married men are required to grow a beard, but moustache is prohibited since it is very "militaristic". Women are supposed to look modest and natural, without any cosmetics, and any jewellery. Even wedding rings are not accepted. All because the Old Order Amish "are above the world's vanities." The Amish clothes did not go far from the 17th century. It is certainly homespun, without all-possible lightning, rivets and other bright haberdashery. Instead, hook-and-eye closures and invisible pins are used. Women wear solid-coloured fabric ankle-long dresses of simple cut, aprons, caps or headscarves. Men wear dark trousers, shirts with vests and black felt hats, different communities have their own opinion on size of hat brim. Strangely enough, this ascetic look makes the Amish very visible in the crowd, serving as inspiration for fashion designers. That probably pleases young Amish girls and causes disapproving grumbling of their parents.
Not everyone treats the Old Order Amish well. Some people are afraid of this community, some consider them "dangerous sectarians" or barbarians. This leads to unpleasant incidents and conflicts (for instance, throwing stones into horse-drawn buggies). However, for some reason, in a supermarket the Americans are primarily looking for products grown on environmental friendly Amish farms. If they want to buy a good wooden table for the living room, they are sure to ask whether there is one for sale from the Amish.
Photo tuiris.com, fb.ru