The Amish religion originated in Switzerland in 1693. Today, there are approximately 250,000 Amish living in North America. The biggest Amish population is in Holmes County, Ohio, but other communities exist throughout the Midwest. The Amish are known for a conservative lifestyle that precludes them using many modern conveniences.
Military Service and Education
The Amish don't follow traditional practices when it comes to serving in the military and education. They don't believe in violence and do not enlist in the armed forces. If there is a draft, Amish citizens are excused because of their beliefs. They strive to be completely self-reliant in their community. The children are taught in a one-room school house and their formal education is finished in the eighth grade.
Simplicity and Photography
The Amish interpretation of the bible and the desire to have an autonomous community have the Amish living a life that does not include electricity, telephones (although some do keep a phone in their barn) or automobiles. Some Amish have amended the no automobile rule to allowing for an Amish to ride in someone else's vehicle if necessary but never to own one of their own. Photography of any kind is strictly forbidden in Amish communities. They are not allowed to pose for photos or take them. They believe that photography leads to vanity and threatens the cohesion of the community.
The Amish have a strict dress code, which falls in line with their beliefs of simplicity and rejection of vanity and modernity. They do not use zippers, but buttons instead. The women sew their family's clothes. Men wear pants and women strictly wear dresses, mostly in shades of blue. However, girls are allowed to wear pastel colors. Only married women wear aprons and they wear white aprons to church. Girls and women alike wear bonnets. Men grow beards, but not mustaches.
Rumschpringe (pronounced rum-spring-a) is the period in every Amish citizen's life when he or she turns 16 and is considered an adult. At this time the 16-year-old is free to leave the Amish community and explore the modern world. After rumschpringe is over, the teenager has a choice whether to leave the Amish lifestyle and join the outside or return to the community. Most Amish choose to return. If they choose to leave they are excommunicated from the community and are not allowed back if they change their mind.
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