Things to do in Lancaster Amish Village | Pennsylvania


“They are not against modernization, they are not against Technology, but they don’t want to use byproducts of the Technology.

Alpacas in Lancaster in a Farmland

” In a country like America, where technology is major chunk of our livelihood, this community has a simplistic approach to life. From using Alpacas in the Farmland to make quality wool, to Horse Buggies for commute, to 8th grade education to sustain livelihood because that’s all they need, to using Solar Panels and Propane Gases in their home instead of electricity , to believing in helping each other as a community, a tour to Lancaster is a must if you traveling down to Pennsylvania. Of course Philadelphia is a big city but to understand the basics of life,a little bit of Amish insights are what all of us may need in a otherwise hectic lives. The question is in today’s date, can we give up the comforts of life, to enjoy what once was part of each of us.The only way to become Amish in this modern world is to start praying and in the next life you can be born in amish family. 50 years ago there was not much to give up, so for us its almost impossible to go back today.

The best Vanilla Ice-cream I have had ever had in an Amish Grocery Store

The buggies Amish use vs. Cars we use!

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Why I took Taketours?

On days, when travel gets expensive within US by renting a car, I take Taketours (you will find me mentioning them in my future posts too). Do check them out, they have these amazing set of tours for like everywhere. For folks who want to invite their parents to US to cover major sites, bus tours by them are great option. So on one of the long weekends in April, we decided to take Taketours of 2 days for Jersey City -Princeton - Lancaster - Philadelphia - Washington that was for $74 / person including one night stay which was far more reasonable than we could have had done by our own. In US if you own a car, you can skip insurance when renting because its covered already, however if you don’t own one, renting a car with insurance can get you anywhere between $120-125/day which is expensive. Stays are usually in the range of $60-100 for budget accommodation. Talking of which, every time I take these tours, It reminds of how convenient they are but also reminds me that I have to diligently follow their time and itinerary.

Traveling within US by your own can get a little expensive from one city to another plus some of the locations do not even have local connectivity or if they do they are super expensive, unless that city is very close or you own a car. Talking of which, I did not find US to be extremely backpacker friendly like Europe - I found that ever since I moved here, sharing cost with significant other/friend cuts down the cost and that is why you see me traveling most with my partner. Believe me I have stayed in a hostel here, and it was not great! And a lot of people question me, don’t you travel solo anymore, I would love to, but the places that my hearts with, costs me more if I travel just solo. I still don’t have a driving license so I keep on browsing bus rates/routes and since I am in New York, the most I could travel solo would be Washington, Boston and Philadelphia or Fly to Florida. Although I would love to experience Ithaca (NY), Acadia National Park etc,Denver the local transport is a hassle. For all countries I have been to, I have never faced this dilemma if I can be left alone on road and here that can happen if you don’t find a local transport! Hence these tours come handy. Plus my visa is due renewal so I cannot travel any where else than US for the next 6 months. Anyways, let’s talk a little bit about Amish Village and why you’d love to visit them.

Who are Amish?

Amish traces its history during European religious reformation. The history of the Amish church began with a schism in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists in 1693 led by Jakob Amman. He believed Mennonites was too liberal and so he decided to leave Mennonites and start his own practice in 1693. The reason they call themselves Amish is because of this leaders last name. Starting in the early 18th century many of the Amish migrated to US. Right now in Lancaster county there are 35000 Amish and they are divided into more than 200 Church Districts , with each Church District having about 20-30 families. They do not build Church buildings, they hold their services at home. In their Services they separate men from women. There are 31 states of Amish Settlement in US + in Canada.

Amish Homes & Lifestyle - What are they like?

Our tour began with us sitting separately as male and female on benches in one of the rooms of Amish Home as she explained how it happens in Services. The house that we were on tour was build in 1805 and in 1955 it was open to public and became a museum. This home had electricity for our convenience although any Amish home would not have one! There are two things that in an Amish Settlement would never use - they don’t use electricity and they don’t use cars!

1)As we browsed through the home,we were told to notice how any of the walls does not have any Family Picture/Photo. Amish also use old Testament and according to Bible it is said to not grieveth any images, so they don’t take pictures. We were cautioned on to not take picture if we get excited seeing an Amish, because this was not the zoo we were in, we have to respect their culture as well. What they have in their home is something like this where everyone’s name and their birthday’s are hung up on the wall.

2)In Amish homes - there are no electricity.The reason why they don’t use electricity is because they believe to live in the world not of the world (as in electricity comes a byproduct from the cable grids) . They don’t use Computer and TV because they believe that way they would have direct contact with outside world 24*7 . Every family hence would have lights run on the same mechanism, they have propane gas tanks with it. They use other source of energy because its needed- three way to power - they use propane gas, they use batteries and batteries are charges by generators and generators are run by people, and they use Solar power. From that angle we are far behind Amish people. They don’t want to follow the pace of the world, they want to have their own time. And that are not against modernization or technology but are against the use of byproducts of the technology.

3)Any guesses to how many wives they have? They believe in monogamy and have just one husband and one wife. Since they don’t use birth control that is why they have so many children. They are not allowed to divorce, but they can remarry. Wen can they remarry ? When their spouse passed away after an year of mourning and grieving they can remarry.

4)The mirror that we saw in one of the room was for men and for shaving. Women rarely use mirrors, only on occasions when she has to fix her bun.Amish men also do not have mustaches. This tradition stems back to the early days of the Amish when wearing elaborate mustaches was common among those in the military. In their early days, the Amish and other Mennonites in Europe were often persecuted by these groups. In addition to that, the Amish, being a pacifist group, didn’t want to associate themselves with those who waged war,(as the soldiers had mustaches) so strictly forbid their members from growing mustaches. It isn’t until the Amish man gets married that he will stop shaving his beard and allow it to grow up, with beards being a mark of an Amish male having become a man.

5)Then we went to one of the rooms that was a Girl’s room. One of the ways to Amish by Non-Amish is by looking at what’s their hair style and their dress they wear. The Amish ladies from Lancaster wear Heart Shaped Caps on the bun with the hair which is never cut, whereas the ones from Ohio and Indiana where round shaped caps. Their dress are very simple and plain only one solid color, no prints. Even in the winter time, they don’t wear long pants they wear dress and they don’t wear covered jackets, they wear layers and layers of clothing and they use shawl. Its made out of wool so its very very warm. They wear shoes which are like the ones shown. Usually quilts are made by hand

6)The next stop was our visit to the Boy’s room. If your a boy, it does not matter, if you are one year old or 101, they use only colors of Black and White. They wear long pants years around only in Black even during the summer time and those will have no zippers, no belts , only suspenders and buttons!

7)An amish believes that even if you are a super rich amish, it doesn’t matter, after you pass, everyone gets same kind of coffin.The length vary depending on the height of the person but the style is the same. They bury very close to each other to preserve land so this allows them to do that. They don’t use any images not any decorations of flowers / flags etc. They don’t have their birthdates written on the coffin because they are christian and as per them, the day is celebrated is the day you pass is the day you return to father in the heaven or eternity thats the day to celebrate. So is always the date the person passed away listed - not necessarily their birthday - for example,Sara lived 51 years 1 month and 2 days and why? And 2 days are written why? The 2 days are written because it reminds everybody we are here temporarily nothing is a big deal. 8)We are all English in their eyes and they don’t live in village just by themselves but with other English People. So along with Horse buggies run by Amish you would see lots of cars in the area run by English people.

                                                    Non - Amish coffins.

                                                     Amish Coffins.

9) Amish don’t encourage Higher Education. They educate their kids only until 8th grade.The reason because their purpose of life is to follow the teaching of Bible. So even if you never read a bible you could guess right? Do you think bible will tell us to go get a PHD? No. Do u think bible says be a doctor be a lawyer be the president of the country. No. thats why they don’t need higher education. They have school with one class - thats why they are called one house school classroom. every one from 1st grade to 8th grade goes to the same classroom whose teacher is unmarried amish young girl whose qualification is also till 8th grade so she doesn’t hv to go to college doesn’t hv to get certified all she has to do is go through training for a few weeks and go to experienced teacher and ask for tips n suggestions. After she gets married in her early twenty she will retire for raising her family.They teach in school their first language is pennsylvania dutch even though english is taught at school. So what is pennsylvania dutch ? It is a German dialect mixed with english they don’t even use these kind of languages in Germany right now. In School, they teach, Things they learn they can use it life. Basic common sense and basic simple life. 10) The unemployment rate for an Amish is 0. As they grow up, their parents will give them freedom, not freedom as in go to another country and travel but they still stay with the family in the evening but if they want to go to movie theatre they can if they want to go bowling they can. If they want to go to their English neighbor and watch tv they can even if they are not encouraged to do those things but they are given freedom thats why they don’t baptize their kids. They only baptize adults, they want them to experience the English world and then make their own mind to decide if they want to become member of the church. If they decide they want to become member of the church then they have to give all those things once they are baptized they can only marry to the ones who are baptized. Even if they are given a choice at a young age, most people prefer to stay Amish and why? Because their family value is very strong , they have strong faith in God and they have the spirit of the community they help each other like in 2014 when an Amish barn caught fire and burner down the foundation was build by the village the very next day.

11) Amish are not stupid people because they don’t have higher education , so its important for us to be considerate towards them. They make great business man and women by working hard, farmers and work that requires hard work like carpentry, shoe making etc. Our tour guide told us, one of her Amish Business friend, only takes calls on Thursday 7-7:30pm. As we ventured into the farmlands, we saw Alpacas. Alpacas are camels long distance cousins, they are from south America.They are raised here for their wool - As Alpaca wool is more softer and is more expensive than sheep.

 12) They do not have ID as Driver License. Because they do not need one. Nor a passport, because they do not need to fly. Their identity is SSN number in US. The horse buggies also have to follow traffic rules and they have scooters too for community but they do not use Bicycles. The reason why they don’t use bicycle is because when bicycle was invented they believed that it would take their kids far away from home. As the world evolved, they are surrounded by english people so before their kids learn how to use Horse and Buggy they should have a way to go from one place to another,otherwise walking will take a long time. Scooters are Bicycle without seats so when you use scooters, it allows you to use your own strength and it discourages you to go too far away.

 13) They are American citizens so they have family doctors and dentists and they have their own health Plan. They also have their own banks.

14) What I also love about Amish Village is you always get the purest of food in their stores. They do not mess us ingrediants and use basic ingrediants to make things sans preservatives so they are always fresh. Some of the things that I love bringing back is their honey, lemonade, ice cream, soaps, cream. You name it!

15) Even though the tour was just for about an hour, it took us to deep insights on a community residing in US, so different from us and thats a surprise for me! Next - a blogpost on Phily , Washington and New York! :) Stay tuned folks.

Direction: New York to Lancaster is about 3 hours drive
Direction: Philadelphia to Lancaster is about 1.5 hours drive
Direction: Washington to Lancaster is about 2.5 hours drive

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