Visiting the Pennsylvania Amish in Lancaster County

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.”

The Pennsylvania Amish of Lancaster County are America’s oldest Amish settlement, where thousands still live a centuries-old „Plain” lifestyle. Arriving in Amish Country allows you to step back in time to enjoy a slower, more peaceful pace – one where the horse & buggy remains a primary form of transportation, and where windmills dot the landscape, providing power harnessed from nature. There is no such thing as television, radio, cinema theatres, or other entertainment means.

Always a vital part of Lancaster County culture, the PA Amish are involved in agriculture as well as an array of businesses and cottage industries. They opened stores where they sell their excellent produce and food. These stores are to be found not only in Pennsylvania, there are two of them not far from where we live, in New Jersey.

Amish women typically wear solid-color dresses with long sleeves and a full skirt, covered with a cape on the bodice. Some less conservative groups allow the women to wear short sleeved dresses but never sleeveless. Clothing is fastened with straight pins or snaps, stockings are black cotton and shoes are also black.

To be Amish means more than just slow-paced and hardworking. In the course of time I visited several Amish farms and had the opportunity to talk to some of them. They lead a very interesting life that reminds us of very old times. Those we talked to speak of a more relaxed way of living, but a strong work ethic. The visitors can go into the Amish homes and see for themselves their life style.

If you notice, you’ll find that no Amish men wear belts. It is a prohibited accessory — they’re just too flashy. Amish men wear suspenders, sometimes two, or, in certain villages, no suspenders at all. But never belts. 

The Amish people wonder what the impact of fewer farmers and more “Amish businessmen” will be, especially if people become “too well off?” They think “prosperity” is the biggest threat to the Amish way of life, although some of the Amish would put cellphones (“the world in your pocket”) at the top of the list.

The more curious tourists meet local Amish families for a sit-down home-cooked meal, where they can find out lots of details about what means to be Amish nowadays. For some of us, staying at an Amish Bed and Breakfast or guesthouse  is a simple way to step away from many of the technological distractions that seem to dominate our lives. It certainly is a worth living experience. For instance, to avoid idolatry, the Amish do not have mirrors, nor do they allow photographs or pictures of images in their homes. In the Amish community, divorce is forbidden and not sanctioned in the Amish church. The decision to marry a person outside of the Amish church is one that comes with a decision to be made by the person in the community, but before they are baptized by the church.

A few more things: in the Lancaster county, PA, the visitors cen enjoy, if they so desire, bus tours through the County’s backroads and so they learn about Amish traditions while riding in comfort. Have fun while learning something new with the area’s only authentic Amish lessons, taught in their one-room schoolhouse. During the summer, an actual Amish schoolteacher will share her wisdom along with a real Amish lesson. As winter arrives and Christmas nears, see how the Amish decorate for Christmas in the one room schoolhouse and enjoy the Amish Holiday Tradition Tour. Take a guided tour of an authentic 1840’s Amish farmhouse and learn about today’s Amish lifestyle.

You could visit other Amish communities in the states of Ohio or Indiana.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

I wish you an enjoyable day!

Cristina David