The Amish and Mennonites are Evangelical ethno-religious communities with roots in Germanic Europe. In the United States they are prevalent in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and the Wooster area of Ohio. The Amish community in Canada is small, but Mennonites are widely dispersed across the country, with clusters in the Region of Waterloo (Ontario),and the Steinbach area of Eastern Manitoba. Mennonites are also prominent in the Gran Chaco (Paraguay) and in Chihuahua in Mexico.
Both the Amish and Mennonites are Anabaptists, Protestant groups with roots in the Radical Reformation in the 16th century. Many of them immigrated to colonial North America in the 18th century.
The Amish live by the Ordnung, a set of religious rules. The most visible outcome of the Ordnung is that some Amish to a greater or lesser degree reject modern clothing, motor vehicles and electric machinery. The Amish do not see technology in itself as evil, but they reject inventions which challenge virtues such as diligence and family ties.
Note that there are taboos among these peoples about having their photographs taken: most Amish and Mennonites will refuse if asked. This prohibition is based on the Biblical verse "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image", and the Amish interpretation of this verse considers the taking of photographs of people to be idolatry.
While German-speaking peoples made up a large portion of European settlers in North America, the Amish are among the few who have preserved their language to present day. Their traditional language is known as Pennsylvania German, or Pennsylvania Dutch (a mispronunciation of Deutsch).
High German is the liturgical language for the Amish, but generally speaking, only members of the clergy are conversational in High German.
In modern times, most Amish speak English as well to communicate with non-Amish clients for their businesses, so you should have no problem getting by.
- 1 Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center (Berlin, Ohio). Features a stunning visual depiction of the history of the Amish and Mennonite people.
- 2 Amish Farm and House (Lancaster, Pennsylvania). Opened in 1955 as America's first Amish attraction.
- 3 German Culture Museum (Walnut Creek, Ohio, near Berlin). A museum of German American history, focusing on the Amish.
- 4 The Amish Village (Ronks, Pennsylvania, near Lancaster). 1840s farm house furnished as a typical Lancaster County Old Order Amish house. Grounds include barn with farm animals, operating water wheel, smoke house with Pennsylvania Dutch foods, blacksmith shop, and w village gift shop.
- 5 Mennonite Life Museum (Lancaster, Pennsylvania). A visitors center that is a jumping-off point to learning about Mennonites and all Mennonite Life has to offer.
- 6 La Crete Mennonite Heritage Village, Township Rd 1060 & Range Rd 154, La Crête, Alberta, ☏ +1 (780) 928-4447.
- 7 Mennonite Heritage Village, Friesen St, Swift Current, Saskatchewan.
- 8 Mennonite Heritage Village, 231 Provincial Trunk Hwy 12, Steinbach, Manitoba.
- 9 Rosthern Museum and Mennonite Interpretive Centre, 510 6 Ave, Rosthern, Saskatchewan, ☏ +1 306-232-7447.
- 10 Mennonite Heritage Museum, 1818 Clearbrook Rd, Abbotsford, British Columbia.
- 11 Brubacher House, 200 University Ave W, Waterloo, Ontario.
- 12 Schneider Haus (Schneider Haus National Historic Site), 466 Queen St S Kitchener, Ontario.
- 13 The Mennonite Story, GC6W+JG Woolwich, Ontario.
The Amish are famous for textile and wood craft. You will also be able to find a lot of fresh and delicious foods, including breads, dairy products, and preserves.
- 1 George's Furniture and Woodshop Tours, 9 Reichs Church Rd, Marietta, Pennsylvania.
- 2 St. Jacobs Farmers' Market, 878 Weber St N, Woolwich, Ontario.
Amish women are known for being good cooks, and several Amish women have set up catering businesses to earn some extra income for their families. Amish areas often have buffet restaurants where you can sample some home-style Amish cooking. One particularly common highlight in Amish restaurants is Amish fried chicken.
- 1 Yoder's Kitchen, 1195 E Columbia St, Arthur, Ilinois, ☏ +1 217 543 2714. Popular restaurant in Illinois' largest Amish settlement, known for their strawberry pies and fried chicken.