AMISH CUSTOMS - INTRODUCTION
customs and culture
interest people because their lifestyles are so different to ours. Or
are they? How different are the Amish to us? What are their
customs, culture and religion like, especially for funerals
and burials, death and dying?
A large percentage of
Amish live on homesteads in Lancaster County. Homesteading
is what they have been doing for centuries. For those who are not Amish
their customs and traditions intrigue. We have an article for you on an
Amish funeral and what takes place.
These are simple
ceremonies that take place involving the immediate family and the Amish
community who go about preparing the funeral plans. These are ancient
Amish customs that have been practiced for hundreds of years. The Amish
way of life and the customs that they follow are very different to
those of other religions.
For the Amish, when a
person has died they are no longer there. Instead they have gone to be
with God in the afterlife. Therefore, an Amish funeral will focus on
the goodness and praise for God, rather than focus on the person
AMISH CUSTOMS - THE
INVOLVEMENT OF THE COMMUNITY FOR A BURIAL
Usually, when a person
in the community dies, he is buried 3 days after his death. The bodies
are only embalmed if the state they are living in demands it.
Otherwise, various members of the community are involved. While some
may help with the preparation of the body, others will help build the
coffin, sit with the body while the grave is being dug, help hand-dig
the grave or help prepare the food for the meal after the funeral.
AMISH CUSTOMS - DRESSING THE BODY AFTER DEATH
Upon death the body is washed, and
clothes used to dress the body are usually made by the family. The men
are dressed in a white vest, white pants and white shirt. The women are
dressed in a long white dress, cap and apron. Often the cap and apron
where the same ones she wore on her wedding day. At no time is make-up
applied to the body. The dresses are plain, simple and unadorned.
AMISH CUSTOMS - THE COFFIN
The coffin is also simple. It is
handmade by the Amish, usually out of pine, and has no handles or any
veneer. It is simple in its construction and has no padding inside. The
final resting place for the coffin will usually be in a local Amish
AMISH CUSTOMS - 3 VIEWINGS OF THE BODY
People are able to view the body on
three separate occasions. The first is when it is lying in an open
coffin in a suitable room of the house. The room has first been
stripped of all furniture and decorations before it is fit for the
first viewing. A small service will take place here. The second viewing
takes place at the funeral itself. Some branches of Amish do not have
formal churches, so this could take place in a barn or in the
deceased's house. The third viewing is at the graveside before the body
is interred where a final service takes place.
AMISH CUSTOMS - THE PALLBEARERS AT THE FUNERAL
4 good friends of the deceased will be
chosen to carry the body from the house to the black, horse-drawn
hearse, to the place of the funeral and then finally to the graveyard.
If the person was single, then single friends are chosen. If married,
then the bearers will be married.
It is these 4 friends who are
responsible for getting the room ready to receive the coffin, digging
the grave and getting the hearse ready to transport the coffin.
AMISH CUSTOMS - THE FUNERAL SERVICE
3 days after the death the
person is buried.
is because Amish
customs are that it takes 3 days to
hand-dig the grave. The service is attended by friends and family, and
all the mourners where black. The immediate family will wear black for
a year. Their grief is private and they do not show their emotions.
The 2 hour funeral service
is delivered in Pennsylvania Dutch, a form of Dutch, and is used, not
as a time to focus on the deceased and to praise him, but rather to
give thanks and praise to God. The deceased is show respect but there
are no eulogies. An Amish Cemetery -
At the end of the service the deceased's name is
mentioned, his birth date and his death date. That's all.
The pine coffin is left
plain. There are no photos or flowers on the coffin. During the service
there are no sung hymns. A hymn may be read out, and the Lord's Prayer
is said. However the basis of the funeral is a sermon and prayers.
AMISH CUSTOMS - THE GRAVESIDE
The preacher who led the
funeral will lead the mourners to the graveyard. This is either an
official Amish burial ground or at a home plot on a farm. A final
prayer is given before the coffin is closed for the last time.
are used to lower the coffin into the ground by the bearers and members
of the family take turns to throw sods of earth onto the coffin before
the grave is filled in with spades by the bearers while the mourners
tombstones are plain and fairly uniform, with a simple epitaph that
states the name, birth and death dates and age in years, months and
days. The plots are bare, and usually no foliage is planted or flowers
placed on the graves. Children usually are buried in unmarked graves or
have small headstones that lie flat on the ground. In some communities
customs are that the tombstones are not inscribed and the
elders maintain a
map of the cemetery to identify occupants in each plot.
AMISH CUSTOMS - THE FUNERAL MEAL
After the burial Amish customs dictate
that the mourners will go
back to the house of the deceased to have simple Amish food.
Friends and family will continue to
visit the mourning family every Sunday for a year. They may also visit
during the week as well.
If you enjoyed reading this article you may also enjoy reading about
way of life
or try a genuine Amish
friendship bread recipe
. And, if you
are feeling industrious then have a look at our Amish
covering a range of meals.