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All aspects of Amish life are established by written or oral rules, known as
Ordnung. The Ordnung defines what it means to be Amish. It dictates their
lifestyles, ranging from dress to hair length to buggy or farming style. The
Ordnung varies in different communities. This is why one may see Amish in one
part of the country riding in automobiles or using electricity.
The most important social unit in the Amish culture is family. Amish marry
only Amish; intermarriage is forbidden. Large families with up to ten children are
very common. The father is the head of the household. He, along with his sons,
are responsible for the farm work. The wife does the cleaning and cooking. The
conveniences of modern technology are not encouraged or accepted in most Amish
communities, known as the Old Order Amish. Most Amish cultivate their fields
with horse-drawn machinery, travel in horse-drawn buggies, and live in homes
without electricity. A telephone is a common use, yet they are not allowed inside
the home. These conveniences are believed to weaken the family structure. The
Old Order Amish use little modern technology, while the New Order Amish are
permitted to use electricity, own vehicles and other conveniences.
The Amish style of dress is very simple. It represents their separation from
other cultures and their faith. Clothing is made of primarily dark, plain fabrics.
Amish women generally wear long sleeve dresses with a full skirt. They are not
allowed to wear patterned clothing or jewelry. They also never cut their hair, and
wear it in a braid or a bun concealed by a small bonnet. Amish men typically wear
straight-cut suits without collars or pockets. Young men are to be clean shaved,
while married men are to allow their beards to grow. Mustaches are forbidden.
The Ordnung of each community specifies their own dress code along with other
aspects of life....
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