Monday, March 16, 2009

216- RUMSPRINGA....An AMISH Custom!....

Growing up as a member of the Brethren, this historian is familiar with the custom of Rumspringa. The term is Pennsylvania German one for "running around." Only SOME members of the Amish allow the custom during their adolescence. In recent years, people in American society have gotten the idea that ALL Amish practice the custom.
The age usually begins around sixteen and ends when the Amish youth chooses to be baptised in the church OR leave the church community. The elders in this sect who do agree with the custom in therory view the time as a courtship for finding a spouse.
The term "Rumspringa" actually, away from popular outside the Amish church beliefs, simply means "adolescence" and not anything goes!
A minority, of course, like in any culture, may go far beyond established customs.

Examples: not attending home prayer...drinking alcoholic beverages...wearing non-traditional clothing and style of hair. (One of my fave films of all time is "Witness"...you do get a good feel for clothing and thinking...in the film you'll hear them refer to "outsiders" as the "English out there.")...also, driving trucks or autos and not a horse drawn buggy. The young man may alter his traditional hat to rebel. In Rockingham County, Va., Dayton and Harrisonburg, you'll find horse and buggy often parked iutside a market and long lines of horse and buggies on Sunday going and coming from church out in the country...Ohio and Pennsylvania, too.

Some Amish youth do go outside the community, among "the English" to live and experience modern technology and may experiment with it all. However, I understand that they are not barred from returning to the church, with, it seems, most do return. Just like any town or culture in American society, each area or community may have their own distinct standards. Therefore, a true historian cannot label one as being true of all!

I've spent considerable time, in the Shenandoah Valley, studying, observing and simply getting to know, in general, the Amish and Mennonites, knowing quite well that within those groups and churches customs and traditions may and do vary from even individual churches in the same county. Want to learn more? Be curious......

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