CAPTION: This is a door to an Amish home in the Conewango Valley of New York where doors are typically blue, but they aren't blue in every Amish settlement. Just a matter of local tradition.
By Kevin Williams
Betty asked me a question about why the Amish paint their doors blue?
Good question, Betty. My answer: they don't all paint their doors blue. In fact, only in certain areas do they do this and I once asked an Amish woman why, hoping for some answer rich in history and tradition. But she just sort of shrugged and said "tradition." And I believe that is likely the case. We "English" try to ascribe all sorts of meaning to Amish traditions: the curtains in an Amish home are tied a certain way it means they have a single daughter, celery on a wedding table symbolizes fertility, a blue door is a courting ritual.
"Well, how do you get that exact same blue color for all the doors," I asked.
"We just take some to the hardware store and they do a color match," the woman said matter-of-factly.
I've asked many Amish in many places about the significance of this or that tradition and am often met with the same shrug type answer. Made customs are just tradition and their original meaning, if they ever had any, have been lost to time. Some Amish traditions may have had meaning originally, like I've heard a plausible reason explaining why the Amish of Berne, Indiana have open carriages, such that early on a covered carriage seemed very "aristocratic", but that meaning doesn't resonate with Amish today. So, yes, most of these quirky traditions are just that: traditions.
Sorry for the unexciting answer.