The Amish are a complicated, complex culture. To the average outsider they appear flash-frozen in time, but things are always changing beneath the surface, rules are shifting, traditions are evolving. I'm sure I could make this list 30 things long, but here are 5 quick health and hygiene habits about the Amish that may or may not surprise you.
The Amish On Smoking Cigarettes
Yes, some Amish do smoke. It's not expressly forbidden in most churches. In my 25 years visiting Amish settlements I have never seen an adult Amish person smoking. But in tobacco growing communities (Maryland and southern PA), smoking is still fairly acceptable among Amish men and women. Also, I have heard of cigars on occasion in rural northern New York's Amish communities.
The Amish On Alcohol
Church rules generally do not prohibit alcohol consumption. In Berne, Indiana and Middlefield, Ohio, officers have been known to issue DUIs to buggy operators. Some Amish even make their own wine out of dandelion or muscadines.
The Amish on Soda
Okay, this one is close to my heart. Soda - Mountain Dew in particular - seems popular among the Amish. I rarely see my beverage of choice - Coke - being consumed. Seems many Amish prefer Mountain Dew or cheap store brand colas.
The Amish on Soap & Showers
Some Amish make their own homemade soap, while others use store-bought. But bathing and cleanliness are important attributes for the Amish, despite what you hear from some people. Some Amish with indoor plumbing have deluxe walk-in showers. More conservative Amish still bathe the old-fashioned way, boiling some water and stepping into an old washtub.
The Amish on Vaccines
This gets mangled in the media a lot. Some Amish are suspicious of vaccination programs, but plenty of Amish DO get vaccinated. In fact, my educated guess, would be that well over half of the Amish in the USA do vaccinate their children. So media reports that vaccinations are not widespread among the Amish are not accurate.
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