The uniqueness of Lancaster County prompts lots of questions about the heritage, customs, things to do in the area and of course - our Amish neighbors. Read below to see what others are asking, and to learn the answers.
What's the difference between the Amish and Mennonites?
Amish groups tend to be more cautious with technology and involvement with the larger world than most Mennonites. Most Old Order Amish drive horse-drawn carriages or buggies, dress "plain," refrain from the use of electricity, emphasize occupations close to the farm and the home and forbid higher education.
Mennonites are considerably more acculturated. They embrace education and technology as opportunities, accept reluctantly the stress which modern life places on marriage and the family and encourage an enlargement of the fellowship through worldwide missionary activities.
What are "Old Order" and "Modern" Amish and Mennonite families and how are they different?
"Old Order" are those who take their cues for decision-making primarily from their faith fellowship. "Modern" are those who are more influenced in their primary decision-making by what the larger society thinks than by what their faith fellowship believes. The Old Order groups are growing much faster than the modern groups and have doubled in membership in the past 20 years.
Is the Plain Community a Christian group or does it represent a different religion?
All Mennonite and Amish groups are devoted to the Christian faith and life and have fostered special emphases on peace and simplicity, following the traditional tenets of protestant theology.
Why do they dress that way?
Amish and Mennonites believe that how one lives reflects one's faith. Clothing such as aprons and head coverings and modest dress are simply another expression of their deepest convictions. They practice humility, simplicity, nonconformity and modesty.
Where did the Amish come from?
Amish descended from Swiss Mennonites in the 17th century. The founder, Jacob Amman, broke from the traditional church because he believed the church was losing its purity.
How many Amish people live in Pennsylvania Dutch Country?
Pennsylvania has the second largest population of Old Order communities totaling approximately 30,000 people.
Where can I see the real Amish? Where is their "village"? How can I learn about them?
The Amish do not live in towns or villages; they live on farms located throughout Lancaster County. The greatest concentration is to the east of the Downtown Lancaster in the area around Route 340 east of the village of Bird in Hand. The Amish live private lives and all attempts are made to respect this privacy.
To learn more about this culture, you'll find many Amish-themed attractions such as homesteads and buggy rides, plus the Mennonite Information Center. A one-hour farmlands tour departs from the Visitors Center. Shop for authentic Amish produce and handmade goods at roadside stands and local shops offering authentic crafts, quilts and furniture.
Are the "working farms" that are open to tourists real Amish farms?
For the most part, no, working farms are not Amish farms. However, that doesn't mean you won't find a truly authentic experience at our working farm bed and breakfasts! Visitors enjoy milking cows, feeding newborn calves, gathering eggs from the henhouse, taking hayrides and much more.
How do the Old Order Amish dress?
The Old Order Amish wear plain and modest clothing. The women never cut their hair, and wear it pulled back from their face. Long beards are the mark of an adult man. Both men and women use solid colored fabric for their clothing. Learn more about the Amish style of dress.
Can I take pictures of the Amish?
The Amish believe that being photographed violates the Bible's second commandment not to make a graven image. As a general rule of thumb, avoid snapping photos of the Amish, although some don't mind being photographed as long as they are not recognizable. More information on the Amish and photographs.
Do Amish speak English?
Yes, and many are trilingual. Worship services, bibles and hymnals are in German. English is spoken when the Amish correspond with the community. Among themselves they use a German dialect called Pennsylvania Dutch. Learn more about the Amish and language.
Is PA Dutch food the same as Amish food?
Yes. You won't go home hungry after visiting family-style restaurants and smorgasbords to sample these hearty dishes! View a list of PA Dutch restaurants.
Why don't the Amish use electricity?
The Amish do not believe in "conforming to the world" (Romans 12:2) and choose to forgo electricity because it could lead to worldly temptations. The Amish culture values simplicity and abstinence over comfort and convenience.
Do the Amish pay taxes?
Many Amish are self-employed and do not pay social security tax, while those employed by non-Amish companies do pay taxes. Just like other citizens, they pay real estate, state and federal income taxes, county taxes and other typical taxes. The Amish community prides itself on being self-sufficient and do not collect social security benefits, unemployment or welfare checks. More about the Amish and financials.
Why can Amish be passengers in cars, but not own cars?
Being a passenger is no compromise to the Amish belief that owning cars breeds pride and inequality. Accepting rides from neighbors or hiring a driver is a way for Amish to use cars as a means of transportation but not disrupt the Amish culture or social structure. Learn more about the Amish and transportation.
What is your stance on commercial breeding kennels in Lancaster County?
The Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau strongly supports efforts to ensure that the inhumane conditions in large-scale breeding kennels are swiftly brought to a halt by state officials. Read more.