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THE GOLDEN RULE: Do's and Dont's When Visiting Amish Country


Im always amazed by the behavior of some non-Amish people towards the Amish. Its as if Amish people are a zoo-like curiosity existing solely for the pleasure of the curious. The Amish are nothing of the sort: they are a vibrant, self-contained creed that provide a rich texture to Americas cultural quilt. They are a people to be respected and admired. Yet, I continually see and hear stories of people who will just prance up to an Amish home unannounced and expect to be welcomed with open arms and a home-cooked meal. How would you feel if some total strangers knocked on your doors unannounced, wanting to take photos and sample your food? When it doubt on how to behave in Amish country, think how you would feel if the roles were reversed.

The Amish are no different from anyone else where basic courtesy is concerned. When visiting their communities, keep the Golden Rule in mind. The following are some common errors to avoid when traveling through Amish country.

  1. Don't stare.
  2. Visitors will pass a buggy or an Amish woman gardening and give a friendly wave. Some Amish have hundreds of tourists waving at them in a single day. They would get a sore arm and no work completed if they waved back at everyone.
  3. When approaching an Amish family, it is more polite to approach a male first.
  4. No photos period. Amish interpretation of the Bible forbids the capturing of "the engraven image." Save the photos for your memories. Many people have for whatever reason a tough time adhering to this rule. An Amish man once described to me a typical encounter with a tourist:

    "One time a family pulled into our driveway and saw us on our porch. The man asked if he could take a photo of us. We said: `No, we would rather you not.' But the man went ahead at took the photo anyway." said an Amish woman working at a country store near Nappanee, Indiana. The Amish will usually let you photograph their buggies, homes or school-houses if you approach them with respect.

  5. Be on the look-out for slow-moving horse-drawn buggies. Car-buggy collisions are often deadly for the Amish buggy inhabitants. At night, keep your headlights on low beam. Bright lights scare the horses and often blind the occupants of the buggies.

If anyone has questions about Amish etiquette, please write me at .

Kevin Williams
Executive Editor
Oasis Newsfeatures

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