Thursday, April 17, 2014

O ~ Ordnung

The rules of an Amish church are called the ordnung

Ordnungs vary greatly from one community to the next. What is accepted in one community could very easily be forbidden in another.

In the community I grew up in hardwood floors were forbidden, and I always admired them when we visited my cousins in a different community. They on the other hand thought having linoleum on a floor would be great but it was against the ordnung in their community.

A few more bits of ordnung from the community I grew up in:
  • Refrigerators were not allowed in the kitchen. They were fine in a pantry, if you didn't have a pantry they often were kept on a porch.
  • Apron belts weren't allowed to be wider than an inch and a quarter.
  • Kapp strings were supposed to be 7/8" wide and had to be tied at all times.
  • Baby blankets used in church had to be black.
  • Little boys had to wear dresses until their second birthday.
  • Stoves had to be black, and refrigerators had to be painted, white was not an option.
  • Sunday evening youth hymn sings had to last two full hours, no talking was allowed during that time, at least one slow church song had to be sung, no harmonizing, and adding a chorus after each verse was forbidden.
  • Hat brims were supposed to be three inches wide.
  • Men's shirt collars were to be buttoned at all times.
This is only a very small sample of the huge stack of rules that governed almost every possible aspect of our life.


  1. Fascinating...
    Thank you for sharing this!
    I am learning so much from you. : )

  2. This is fascinating. Were reasons given for each of the rules?

  3. jenann, Amish aren't known for their reasons behind rules, they're known for their unquestioning obedience. I don't know if the bishop even knew the reasons behind the majority of the rules.

  4. This is so interesting! I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when some of these rules were established just to know the reasoning behind them! Thanks, MaryAnn, this has been so neat!

  5. I suspect the reasoning for all those clothing-based ones was to prevent trends and fashions from emerging within the community. Naomi starts wearing an apron with 3" wide ties, then Ann does too, and next thing you know the other women are feeling left out if they don't ALSO alter their aprons or make new ones to fit the new style. Or John makes a hat with a 2" brim instead of 3", Matthew outdoes him with a skinny 1" brim, etc.

    I find the hardwood thing weird though. Linoleum is a relatively new material, especially as used in flooring (versus stamp-making). Hardwood is pretty basic. Was the objection to all flooring made of wood (I'm thinking of some very old houses you see that have plank floors), or the specific "first you put down 1x6 boards on a diagonal, then you add 1x3" on top parallel to the wall and stain and finish it with shellac/varnish/wax" that makes, as realtors like to say, "gleaming hardwood floors"?

  6. This is so interesting!!!

    I believe in rules for keeping order and other people safe. However, there needs to be a good reason for rules and not just someone's idea of

    Nice to meet you!

  7. while i find the Amish a very inspiring people, and admire many of their ways of life, I am saddened by this set of rules that have nothing to do with a relationship with Jesus. I grew up in a very legalistic church, and eventually, my parents, my siblings, and myself left. Iam glad you are at a place in your life you dont have to follow thoes rules anymore.:)
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Definitely interesting & thought-provoking. I appreciate you sharing these rules. Guess the one that stumps me is the painting of the appliances. Probably just wanted them to look as 'simple & unfancy' as possible.

  9. Quite interesting. I guess I could understand the rules better if they were across all communities and not different for each. It must make it difficult if you move from one place to another and have to learn an entirely new set of rules.

    Thanks for teaching us so much Mary Ann.

  10. I would not have made a very good Amish person. I don't mind rules - they keep life humming smoothly for the most part - but if you can't give me a reason, forget it! As Mackenzie said, the clothing-based rules I can understand, but the rest make no sense, especially as they differ from place to place.

  11. You are teaching me so much about the Amish culture. I really enjoy reading your posts each day.
    I think it would be very hard to be Amish. I admire their simplicity of life but I would have a very hard time living with all the ordnung. How do you feel now that you are outside the Amish community?
    Today I featured my little grand daughter who sings opera in my O post. I hope you will drop by and say hello. I enjoy hearing from you.

  12. Not sure I could deal with all those rules, even though I understand the idea of uniformity.

  13. It was not until I moved to Aylmer Ontario did I learn how and why rules were made.

    1. The interior of a buggy had to be black or grey. This rule was made was because the young boys started painting the interior pink or light blue, lavender or whatever in trying to out-do each other. It was a form of pride, so paint them black or grey.

    2. Cap strings had to be a certain length or it was a form of pride.

    3. Passport photos were to be ripped out of the passport books because little children were showing their photo to each other and it was a form of pride.

    4. The bottom line of reasoning was always a form of pride...

  14. Thank you for your comment on my blog. As you can see I am not so faithful to keep it updated. I have other obligations that keep me from writing everyday. I have enjoyed reading your blog.
    Our family is quite familiar with the Amish and have made many friends among them. We have a market close by and enjoy our visits there.
    I have spent a lot of time reading about the Amish way of life. Many things seem legalistic but I grew up in a different but with much legalism in the church. It is something that will stay with me but is not part of my Christianity now.
    There are many things that draw us towards the Amish, for example the simplicity in their lives. I believe that is due to us having so much available to us and as we get older we understand that having less is more really. The less things we have to ensnare us and take our time the more time we have for people and meeting their needs.

  15. Hi MaryAnn,
    Goodness, I ALWAYS find all your writings so interesting and so informative!! This has been so fun for me to read!!I have always been so very interested in the AMISH, and, do believe because I am so intrigued by their simple life style, but, yet NOT SO SIMPLE!! Love the family closeness and their dedication to each other and their community.
    I've often wondered that in these small communities, does everyone KNOW EVERYTHING other family and friends are doing, I KNOW their lives cannot be PERFECT, EVEN seemingly so. Do people become divided at all, or, is this just not so? I know their isn't perfection anywhere, they just seem so PERFECT to me.
    Last summer I had the opportunity to visit Lancaster PA.. It was such a treat to me, watching them do their daily chores, farming, laundry, shopping, hustling around in their buggies. They all seemed to just work together. Everyone, even the little ones, seem to be helping with the chores. It always seemed that the women and girl children were together, and, the men and young boys always together. I never really saw mixed company. Very interesting to me.
    What exactly do they do for entertainment in the day or evening when they aren't doing chores. I never did get to witness anything that looked like they were having fun. I'm sure that goes on, but, just so curious.
    Do they look at outsiders as if we are all sinners and living life so far from Christ like, or, just that we live differently.
    Gosh, I have so many questions that I wonder about, and, am sure this isn't the time you want to answer them, but, in your writings you always share with us, I'm sure I will learn more. I ALWAYS look so forward to your posts, and adore reading all about you and your beautiful family. Thank you for all the knowledge I've learned from you, and, the sweet stories and happenings of your beautiful children.
    We are blessed to know the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, and, KNOW that our lives do not have to be lived by such rules and this kind of ruling, to end up in heaven with him someday soon. God is good, and so very loving and you are blessed to know the truth.
    Thanks again, for this fun month of alphabets :) :)
    Much blessings and love to you and yours ~Tanza~

  16. I am learning so much reading through your posts. Thank you so much.


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