Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Amish Community Work Ethic and Recreation

In the Amish community, work is a virtue and idleness is shunned.  They often say, "An idle mind is the devils workshop." Amish adults teach their children to work hard, to enjoy the work, and the satisfaction derived from a job well done. Hard work is not a part of the Ordnung; but rather is a distinctive trait of the culture.  We have witnessed parents start up a side business to provide employment for their children.  One particular family who had several daughters opened a dinner hall where they served Amish meals to bus tours.  The primary purpose was not for added income, but to provide work for the girls.



In the Amish society cooperative work provides opportunity for socialization.  When we moved back to Ohio, my Amish sister-in-laws invited me to "Ladies Day."  In other circles, this might be tea and crumpets.  When I asked about Ladies Day, I learned it was a day that all of the sister-in-laws go to one of the sister's house and wash her windows, walls, floors, and whatever deep cleaning might be found to do.  Each lady takes a dish of food.  A lot of fun and fellowship is had while getting a big job done.  Recreation and socialization combine in such a way that it doesn't seem like work. 

At this local local barnraising, below, the barn was being built for a business, not as a result of a fire.  It was a new business venture.  The Amish came out by the hundreds and did a barnraising simply for the socialization and fun!  I was told their labor was all donated, as is customary.



Barn Raising in Holmes County Ohio


Amish people see worldly children participate in activities such as dance and music lessons, baseball games, 4-H, reading, movies, and recreation of all types.  This would be viewed by the Amish as irresponsible parenting.  By the time an Amish child is grown, he or she has learned to enjoy work as much or more than play.  Typically non-Amish teenagers work toward the main goal of earning money.  Amish teenagers work because they have been taught the value of a job well done and truly enjoy it.  A 16 year old girl who worked for us here at our Millersburg, Ohio, Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast, asked to have off every Friday because she washes her mother's windows each week.  How many "Worldly" girls would want to be sure to be home to wash their mother's windows?




Dutch Blitz Game

On those occasions when Amish engage in recreation, the main physical sport is volleyball, and they compete fiercely.  The girls are as aggressive as the boys.  A table game that is frequently played is Dutch Blitz, a Pennsylvania Dutch game that can be purchased at Lehman's Hardware or other Amish stores.  The Amish do not play card games with typical worldy playing cards.

Submitted by Loretta Coblentz
April 17, 2012

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