History
The Amish culture began in the 1600s when Jakob Ammann, a Mennonite bishop from Switzerland, gathered followers from areas of Switzerland, France, and Germany. They migrated to northwestern Europe, looking for religious freedom. In Europe, the Amish merged with other Mennonite churches, but some migrated to America in the 1700s. The Amish from Germany and Switzerland settled in Pennsylvania, while the Amish from France settled in Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, and parts of Canada. The two groups continued to migrate to different areas of the United States where the land was more inexpensive.

The Amish culture spread by relocation diffusion. Instead of trying to convert others to their religion, the Amish migrated to another place where they would be able to practice their beliefs. The isolated land of the frontier gave them the freedom they needed to develop their culture. The Amish continued to keep their traditional beliefs, even as the United States developed around them.


The Amish Today
The Amish still have their traditional lifestyle today. One of the largest Amish communities in America is Lancaster County in Pennsylvania. Over the years, however, the Amish have moved to southwestern Kentucky, where farmland is more affordable. Still, they retain their traditional customs no matter where they move to.


Beliefs and Traditions
The Amish follow beliefs based on the Mennonite church. They interpret the Bible literally and do their best to apply it to their lives by living simply. They separate themselves from the world because they believe that it will keep them from being close to God. Without telephones and cars, they have a better chance of keeping their traditional way of life.

The Amish use horse and buggies as the main way to travel, which keeps their culture local since they cannot travel as far as they could with a car. In places that are close to metropolitan areas, they have to share the road with cars. Since they do not use electricity, they use kerosene to light their homes. Most Amish are either farmers or have a certain trade, such as carpentry. Amish products have extremely good quality and are most known for their furniture and quilts.

The Amish are a very social community and their religion is the main part of their lifestyle. Children attend school until eighth grade in a one room school house. When a son becomes an adult, his family gives him a farm of his own. However, this tradition has become more complicated since the price of farmland has increased. Still, the Amish have been able to afford land in other areas to keep the tradition alive. Barn raisings are an important event that the whole community participates in. Church is also an essential part of life and Sunday is considered a day of rest.

Resisting Pop Culture
However, it is still not that easy to keep traditional culture alive. America is now majority urban, with land being used for large, corporate-owned farms. The largest Amish community in Lancaster County is threatened by surrounding metropolitan areas that have caused the price of farmland to increase. Many Amish have moved to other areas where farmland is cheaper. The Amish are also having a harder time keeping their traditions to themselves, since many tourists visit the area to see their way of life. Tourism can be a business, but it also brings in modern appliances as well. Some Amish are now using battery and solar power, which is not electricity, but more efficient that kerosene. Cell phones are also becoming popular, which allows them to run businesses more efficiently. In order to preserve their folk culture, the Amish have to let in some pop culture as well.

The Amish may have encountered many changes since the 1600s, but they have kept their traditional culture alive by relocating to places where they are able to practice in peace. Though pop culture is a threatening influence, the Amish have allowed certain things to diffuse into their culture so that they will still be able to preserve their traditions in the modern world. Though the Amish may seem like they are old-fashioned, they are devoted to keeping their folk culture alive, even in a world that is mostly following pop culture.