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Amish Rules

While people tend to have a general understanding of Amish life, the specifics and rules regarding their daily activities aren’t as frequently known by outsiders. Their modes of travel, clothing, electrical use, etc., are mysteries to many of the guests attending our Amish tours. With that in mind, we decided to create the following post that sheds some light on the various rules of Amish life.

How Amish Rules Impact Their Lives

The Old Order Amish have many rules about how they live their lives to prevent worldliness. These rules govern transportation, clothing, power, education, and many other aspects of daily life. Some of their rules may seem complicated at times causing confusion among non-Amish people. The basic concept behind many of their rules is that they “try to be in the world but not of it.” This means they reject many connections to the outside world in an attempt to remain unworldly.

Horse pulling buggy


How do the Amish travel?

For transportation, the Amish do not use cars. They may ride in them if they are driven by non-Amish. Instead, they drive horse drawn buggies, a common sight in Lancaster County. For shorter distances, they may use scooters, but bicycles are also banned. It is believed that cars and bicycles move too quickly over long distances, therefore connecting the Amish to the outside world.

Amish scooters


What are Amish people allowed to wear?

Several other rules involve clothing. The prayer caps are heart-shaped as opposed to Mennonite prayer caps, which are round. They are worn once a girl turns 13. The Amish will only wear solid-colored clothing. Patterns are not allowed since they are too decorative and worldly. Other rules ban buttons, so men use suspenders, and women use pins or clasps to fasten clothing. Additionally, their shoes may be modern, such as crocs or sneakers, but they must be practical and unworldly. Wrist watches are banned, but pocket watches are allowed for practical purposes.

Clothing hanging on a clothesline



Why don’t the Amish use electricity?

Rules governing the use of power sources are also complex. If a power source is not artificial, but from God, the Amish can use it because it is not physically connected to the outside world. So, the Amish can use power sources such as solar, propane, and diesel. These rules allow many modern appliances to be used, such as refrigerators. In addition, generators or batteries are allowed by the Amish. Phones are not permitted in the home but are commonly used for business purposes.

propane tank outside of house


Amish Schooling Rules

Rules regarding education also exist to prevent worldly thinking. Amish children will only go to school to 8th grade before they begin working full time with their families. They do not attend high school or college. They also only celebrate and have off school for religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter, not federal holidays. This allows them to end school in early May after the legally required 180 days of school a year and help in the fields over the summer when there is more work to be done.

Inside of Amish schoolhouse with desks

Can the Amish break these rules?

The Amish can only break these rules during the period of Rumspringa during young adulthood. The period allows children to experience the outside world before being baptized into the church. After baptism, the breaking of these rules risks ex-communication and shunning. The Amish uphold these rules to remain “in the world not of it” and limit any connection to the outside world.

Interested in learning more about the Amish?

Come visit us to learn more and see the Amish lifestyle firsthand.




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