Amish Tidbits & Trivia Exposed

I compare the Amish culture to an onion—one familiar look but many layers. Each time I think I know a rule, hear a story, or understand a practice, I’ve only pulled away a thin cover. Here are miscellaneous insights gained from years of knowing Amish and living with former Amish from both Swartzentruber and Old Orders . . .
  • Infant/Toddler Wear
            Swartzentruber moms customarily put dresses on their girl and boy babies. Until two-years-old or potty trained, boys wear a dress. I'm guessing it's because cloth diapers are used and it’s easier to change a diaper when the baby is wearing a dress. Changing a diaper on a toddler boy would be easier when he's not wearing tiny denim pants with buttons.
  • Rumspringa
            A stereotype about Amish. I've posted about this misunderstood practice, which means a year of “running around.” Swartzentrubers know about Rumspringa - they don't use the word -  but, it's not a year of anything for their adolescents. In lieu of leaving the community for the year of running around, these youth gather on Sunday evenings to sing, spend time together, and party...some go pretty wild! Teenagers are also permitted to smoke cigarettes. And "at sixteen," Mosie told me, "we can choose between a pipe or cigar." I guess that's their "rite of passage." Because Swartzentruber are stricter than other orders, their youth often have a reputation for wild behavior.
            Because the Swartzentruber Order is so rigid with infinite rules and reclusive, their youth are reputed to be the wildest.(Tweet that
  • Shunning
            To correct a member’s sinful behavior, the Church disciplines through shunning. Again, I've already posted about this complex practice, so please read the post. The Amish use a scriptural reference as their basis for the believing this will correct an errant or wayward member. The part of shunning that prohibits eating at the same table with a shunned member is based on this verse from 1 Corinthians 5:15 "If any man this is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer or dunkard, or an extortioner: with such a one do not eat."  
  • The King James Bible is the only version used by Swartzentruber Amish. Other orders might use another translation. In keeping with this KJ version, they also insist it be in the German language.
  • The Bann
            This word is often used interchangeably with shunning. A person is disciplined by the church with a bann. It's seen as a temporary corrective measure - mild shunning - lasting a week or two. The bishop or preachers determine the bann time length. One former Amish woman told me that she was disciplined and nearly banned for laughing in church. An Old Order mother was nearly put in the bann because she resisted settlement pressure to put her daughter in a mental hospital. Read the daughter's story in Chapter 6 of my new May release, Beyond Buggies and Bonnets: Seven True Stories of Former Amish
  • Freedom of Speech
            Although the Ordnung says church members may speak out when asked, independent thought is discouraged. Former Swartzentruber Amish Noah told me of a time when the preachers were discussing whether or not to shun a disobedient member. A preacher asked the group of men if they all agreed to the decision to shun. But, one stood up in favor of the member and shared his deviation from the group—he was also shunned.(Tweet that)
  • Censorship
            Probably this blog - and my book - will be censored by the bishops because it reveals too much insider information! The Amish thrive and commercialize on an image, one that's broken here. The bishop can and does restrict the type of books and literature available to his settlement. Another nonfiction Amish author has her book in an Ohio bookstore. Several Amish repeatedly pressured the store owner to remove her book. While the owner did not acquiesce to their demands, he did put the book in a less obvious location.

Each week, as I learn more, I'm privileged to peel a new layer off the onion. I have and will continue to share posts here in an effort to give cultural literacy to readers. And in my May book release; Beyond Buggies and Bonnets: Seven True Stories of Former Amish, you'll learn more! As with any culture there are blessings and benefits, and there are also interesting ideas and practices.

What Amish trivia do you know? Got a story? Leave your comments on my blog . . . 

(C)Copyright, 2015, Brenda Nixon.


  1. I think you meant "rite of passage"

    1. Whew, thanks for that extra pair of eyes Will. Fixed it & thank you for reading the post.

  2. I know of an X Amish author who published a book, It was based on her life. Knowing both families involved and knowing background things about the whole situation. It just made me sick, the way she made things sound. Very one sided.