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Shipshewana and the LaGrange County area  (known as Amish Country, Indiana) are home to the third-largest Amish community in the United States. The simple and modest lifestyle of the Amish is both fascinating and endearing and is the reason many people visit our area — to observe and learn about their beliefs, as well as, to purchase their goods and services. We invite you to look inside the Amish Culture and Lifestyle and get to know our locals a little better.

A Rare Glimpse …

You won’t see any Amish posing for pictures, but in a rare interview you can hear why this local buggy tour driver was willing to do a video:

 

Clothing

The common theme among all Amish clothing is plainness; clothing should not call attention to the wearer by cut, color, or any other feature. Hook-and-eye closures or straight pins are used as fasteners on dress clothing rather than buttons, zippers, or velcro. Snaps are used on everyday clothes, and plain buttons for work shirts and trousers. The historic restriction on buttons is attributed to tradition and their potential for ostentation. In all things, the aesthetic value is plainness. Some groups tend to limit color to black (trousers, dresses) and white (shirts), while others allow muted colors. Dark blue denim work clothing is common within some groups as well. The Old Order Amish often sew their own clothing, and work clothing can become quite worn and patched with use.

Amish Buggy on a road

The Amish Order

Amish lifestyle is dictated by the Ordnung (German, meaning: order), which differs slightly from community to community, and, within a community, from district to district (there are over 25 different Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren church groups in Lancaster County). What is acceptable in one community may not be acceptable in another. No summary of Amish lifestyle and culture can be totally adequate because there are few generalities that are true for all Amish.

Groups may separate over matters such as the width of a hat-brim, the color of buggies, or various other issues. The use of tobacco (excluding cigarettes, which are considered “worldly”) and moderate use of alcohol are generally permitted, particularly among older and more conservative groups.

Woman quilting

The Importance of Family & Friends

Amish believe large families are a blessing from God. Amish rules allow marrying only between members of the Amish Church. The elderly do not go to a retirement facility; they remain at home.

Having children, raising them, and socialization with neighbors and relatives are the greatest functions of the Amish family. Amish believe large families are a blessing from God. The main purposes of “family” can be illustrated within the Amish culture in a variety of ways. The family has authority over the individual throughout life. Loyalties to parents, grandparents, and other relatives may change over time but they will never cease. A church district is measured by the number of families (households), rather than by the number of baptized persons. Families take turns hosting the biweekly preaching service. Parents stress their responsibilities and obligations for the correct nurture of their children. They consider themselves accountable to the Lord for the spiritual welfare of their children.

Girl in a field of cows

Indiana, Shipshewana, Amish Farm Tour, girl, coralling, driving cows towards barn, milking,

The family provides the member with a status within the home and within the community. A person is more a member of the family, rather than an individual. Each member has a job, a position, a responsibility, and a status. Females have different chores from the males, with chores within the home normally divided by gender. The Amish traditional family provides much of the education for the child. Although the formal education ends after they finish eighth grade, the boy or girl is trained for their adult tasks. The boys will work with the father in the fields, in the barn, and around the buildings. The girls work inside the home and garden, alongside the mother. The home and family become the school for “on the job” training. Amish youth, by and large, see their parents working hard, and they want to help. They want to learn and to be a productive part of the family.

Amish baseball

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Sports and recreation are shared by all members of the family. There are church outings and family meetings where activities are entered into and shared by all.

Clothes on a line

Clothing

The common theme among all Amish clothing is plainness; clothing should not call attention to the wearer by cut, color, or any other feature. Hook-and-eye closures or straight pins are used as fasteners on dress clothing rather than buttons, zippers, or velcro. Snaps are used on everyday clothes, and plain buttons for work shirts and trousers. The historic restriction on buttons is attributed to tradition and their potential for ostentation. In all things, the aesthetic value is plainness. Some groups tend to limit color to black (trousers, dresses) and white (shirts), while others allow muted colors. Dark blue denim work clothing is common within some groups as well. The Old Order Amish often sew their own clothing, and work clothing can become quite worn and patched with use.

Amish clothes

What do the women wear?

Women wear calf-length plain-cut dresses in a solid color. Aprons are often worn at home, usually, in white (typically for the unmarried) or purple or black (for the married), and are always worn when attending church. A cape, which consists of a triangular piece of cloth, is usually worn, beginning around the teenage years, and pinned into the apron. In the colder months, a long woolen cloak may be worn. Heavy bonnets are worn over the prayer coverings when Amish women are out and about in cold weather, with the exception of the Nebraska Amish, who do not wear bonnets. Girls in some areas may wear colored bonnets until age nine; older girls and women wear black bonnets. Girls begin wearing a cape for church and dress-up occasions at about age eight. Single women wear a white cape to church until about the age of thirty. Everyday capes are colored, matching the dress, until about age forty when only black is used.

Amish people standing around

What do the men wear?

Men typically wear dark-colored trousers, some with a dark vest or coat, suspenders (in some communities), broad-brimmed straw hats in the warmer months, and black felt hats in the colder months. However, some, mostly teenagers, may deviate from these customs to convey someone’s individuality. Married men and those over forty grow a beard. Mustaches are forbidden because they are associated with European military officers and militarism in general. A beard may serve the same symbolic function, in some Old Order Amish settings, as a wedding ring, and marks the passage into manhood.

Brown eggs sign near a road

Local Amish Backroad Stops

We have many local Amish businesses along our country backroads – if you see a sign, you’re welcome to stop at a home/business (just not on Sundays!). Below you’ll find a map of some of most popular local Amish businesses. The driving time is just over an hour and you’ll get to experience some great LaGrange County gems!

Learn more about the Amish Culture …

… by reading some of our blogs! Click here to view our blogs relating to Amish Lifestyle & Culture.

Christmas in Shipshewana
Beauty Around Every Corner