Not All Amish Communities Practice Rumspringa

Not All Amish Communities Practice Rumspringa

By Josh Brown

April 27, 2022

Amish Health, Amish religion, Amish viewpoint, Amish Way of Life, Rumspringa

Have you ever wondered which Amish communities celebrate Rumspringa and which don't? Possibly you're like thousands of other people that have seen videos, documentaries, and internet clips of Amish teens letting loose to decide if they want to continue living an Amish lifestyle after Rumspringa. But, if you have experience with the largest Old Order Amish community in the southern United States that doesn't practice Rumspringa, it can cause some questions! Some Amish Communities Don't celebrate Rumspringa, and here's some information on why not everyone in the Amish faith wants to "jump around."

Barn At Dusk

Amish Barn At Dusk

What Really Is Rumspringa, Where Did The Saying Come From And Why

Some Amish communities are no different than "English" folks when it comes to letting your hair down and having a little fun. So first, what is Rumspringa really, and why do many sectors of the Amish faith believe in it or not? Rumspringa can be found in Pennsylvania Dutch, German, or the Swiss language, meaning to jump, run, and hop about or around, depending on what translation and spelling of the word and in what text it is used. For a better look into the history of the translation of Rumspringa or the different spellings of the word, here is a quick link that describes in depth the differences, Rumspringa

The term Rumspringa is used and practiced by some Amish communities because the Amish use the Pennsylvania Dutch language and because of their history. The Amish have many different sectors, such as Old Order Amish, New Order Amish, Beachy Amish Mennonite, Swartzentruber Amish, and Amish Mennonites. Not to mention many sub-Amish groups that have been formed that are still active today and many sub-Amish groups that have dissolved over time, like the Believers in Christ, The "Plain Communities" as they are known, and found in many different locations in the United States, The Christian Communities of Elmo Stoll, Vernon Community, and the Caneyville Christian Community to name a few. (A quick side note: many of the sub-Amish groups were formed by people that were initially Amish New or Old Orders, Old German Baptist, or Mennonites.) Suppose we trace the original Amish faith back to its beginnings. In that case, we see that the North American Amish started here in America due to a fellow named Jakob Ammann, who formed the original group in the late 1700s in Switzerland. So to clear up the term Rumspringa in this post, we need to look at what language Jakob Ammann spoke and what part of the world he comes from.

One Of The Guys That Started The Amish Faith Found In North America Today

Female Horse Rider Carrying Flag In Rodeo.

Lady Rider Carrying American Flag In Rodeo.

Jakob Ammann was one of the first to lead the Anabaptist movement, which later came to North America. Originally Jakob Ammann was from Erlenbach im Simmental Canton of Bern found in Switzerland, where the main languages are German, French, Romansh, and Italian. Starting in Switzerland, the first documentation of Jakob being noted in the Anabaptist movement was around 1680. Before Jakob's movement to the Amish faith, it was noted that he was baptized into the Old German Baptist type of faith before joining the Amish church, which has Anabaptist beliefs.  Jakob Ammann can also be considered one of the founding people responsible for defining a difference in the Swiss Amish religion compared to the Amish religion found elsewhere in the world due to his interpretation of certain scriptures from the Bible. 

Things To Remember About Jakob Ammann That Helps Explain The Amish Religion Today 

  1. Jakob moved from Switzerland to a place referred to as Heidelsheim in the north of France and then to a community named Alsace. This move by Jakob started a separation between the Swiss Brethren, known as the Swiss Mennonites, and the Swiss Amish. 
  2. Jakob Ammann showed a difference between the Amish and the Swiss Brethren religion by his questions about shunning members, ex-communication of liars, and concerns for people that don't follow God's word (Amish Anabaptist beliefs) if they could still be saved.
  3. Jakob Ammann was also responsible after helping start the difference between the Amish and the Mennonites, for beginning the difference in dress and beard growing of married men between the two faith systems.  

Since we have a little history behind one of the founders of the Amish faith and have seen that the original Amish faith started in Switzerland, why do the Old Order Amish and Mennonites of the United States speak Old World German (Deutsch)? Why not French or one of the other languages found in Switzerland? During the time of Jakob Ammann and other followers of the Anabaptist movement in Switzerland, many had to flee from religious persecution to Germany. This move to Germany is where the Pennsylvania Dutch we hear today comes from. But, understand in this escape from persecution, the Amish followers picked up many different dialects of Pennsylvania Dutch, such as Swiss German or Amish Alsatian German, which we can hear today all spoken in the United States along with English and Pennsylvania Dutch mixed. (Quick Note: Keep in mind that these dialects are similar but different.) 

Not All Amish Communities Are Created Equal That's How Rumspringa Began

Huntingdon Amish Home.

Huntingdon Tennessee Amish Home /New Order Amish

Amish Saddle Maker In Ethridge Tennessee.

Swartzentruber Amish Home In Ethridge Tennessee/ Old Order

Much like the two Amish homes shown above, Amish communities look the same but can be very different. It takes a well-trained eye to notice precisely what those differences are but for people interested in the Amish culture and have been exposed to the Amish people, at first glance, you will see a huge difference!!! Much like the diverse beginnings of the Amish culture, the Amish of today not only dress differently to show what order or group of the Amish faith they belong to but also construct homes differently and have different beliefs in many areas of life and religion. This difference in religious beliefs on the subject of what is correct and incorrect is one reason Rumspringa as we know it began for the Amish families that are part of larger Amish communities, such as in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding areas. The Amish community there believes in hard work, family values, and keeping with the word of God.

Now it is generally expected in the larger Amish communities that, when reaching an age to get ready to find a spouse and settle down,  the younger Amish youth are encouraged to marry within the Amish that are actively practicing within the Amish faith. Rumspringa is considered a time for those Amish youth to do just that; it's a time for the younger youths of the Amish communities in larger Amish settlements to go out and experience the outside world.  Not only to meet other teens within the Amish community around where they live that they would have never met before due to their daily work and chores they are responsible for on the farms. But, to some, what changes in their lifestyle usually could include but do not include everyday items such as the internet, TV, cell phones, and larger social groups. This exploring of the modern world is to put at rest ideas younger Amish people have on these modern foreign subjects. Rumspringa overall is a time to find a spouse and make social connections with other Amish members of the community for their adult life and to decide if, when reaching adulthood, the Amish teens want to keep with an Amish lifestyle or live in a more modern English fashion.    

Points To Remember About Rumspringa

  • Rumspringa is a time for the Amish Teens to "Sow Their Wild Oats."
  • Amish teens are encouraged to meet and make friends with other Amish teens during Rumspringa.
  • During Rumspringa, teens are encouraged to look for a spouse.
  • Rumspringa fulfills modern experiences for Amish youth who have never done so due to their religious beliefs and lifestyle.
  • Rumspringa is a time for the Amish teen to decide if they want to keep living an Amish type lifestyle.

Why Smaller Amish Communities Practice Rumspringa Differently Or Not At All

In an Amish community such as Lancaster, Pennsylvania, there are around 30,000 Amish people. If you were a younger Amish teen living in the Pennsylvania Amish community, finding a boyfriend or girlfriend might be easier than in smaller Amish communities. After all, one of the primary purposes of Rumspringa is to prepare the Amish youth for later Adult life.  But what about the smaller Amish communities in places such as Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas? What do their Amish teens do for Rumspringa? In smaller communities of the Amish faith, Rumspringa is often not practiced. If the smaller Amish communities do partake in Rumspringa many times, it will be by giving the Amish youth in those communities more time together after events such as church. What if the younger Amish teens in a small Amish community can't find a member of the opposite sex they like? When he was asked do they all practice Rumspringa, a member of the local Amish community answered by saying.

"Why would I want to go run about!!! I'm not exactly sure what you're asking me?" (*edited for clarity and conciseness)

This Amish friend's response on Rumspringa is fascinating. After the question was further explained, he detailed how the Old Order Amish communities of Pennsylvania practice Rumspringa for the youth there. He then explained that many times because smaller Amish communities, for instance, in Tennessee, may have fewer young teen members of marrying age. So, the teens often move from one Amish community to another, from Tennessee to Pennsylvania looking for a future spouse, places to start a new business, or farms!! 

Does Rumspringa Always Mean Alcohol And Drugs?

We have all seen internet clips and documentaries about Rumspringa that show all of the Amish teens involved in abusing drugs and alcohol, but is this ALWAYS the case? Much like anyone else that experienced a wild youth full of exploring new things, peer pressure, and all the fruits of youth, the Amish teens are no different. Remember that the Amish communities started in Switzerland and Germany and spoke a Pennsylvania Dutch dialect. The "Spirits" or alcohol consumption, if we look into a study, show higher percentages of Alcohol consumed in these countries compared to other countries; here is a quick link, Alcohol Consumed By Country. It's a horrible fact, but unfortunately, in many studies, alcoholism is much higher in people with family members that had a problem with alcohol. It is also believed that alcoholism can be genetic!!!

Lastly, let's also remember that tobacco is still grown by many different Amish communities.  Be that air-cure tobacco like the type found in middle Tennessee or the flue-cured tobacco found in different parts of the world. If a person grew and sold tobacco, such as the Amish farmers, their mindset might be, why not consume the tobacco you grew?

Amish Barn With Tobacco Hanging Up.

Amish Barn With Tobacco Hanging Up.

Luckily, many Amish people are avid readers and study many different subjects, such as health. So the picture painted about Rumspringa always being nothing more than an all-out drug-fueled party is only sometimes the case. Although, of course, there are plenty of celebrations during Rumspringa. Still, many Amish teens find a spouse, meet new friends, learn to have a more technology-driven lifestyle, and return to a simple religious Amish lifestyle. 

We hope you have enjoyed learning a little more about Rumspringa, where it started, and why the Amish people do or do NOT celebrate it in their youth. If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to comment. We love to hear the ideas and views of our readers. Make sure to look around our website and check out our pages. If you like the blog and want to stay on top of everything at The Amish Of Ethridge, sign up for the newsletter. Finally, look for the Amish of Ethridge on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Thank you all again for reading, and have a great day and an even better tomorrow. 


Do the Mennonites youth celebrate Rumspringa?

Yes, some groups of the Mennonites, such as the Wenger Mennonite youth, celebrate Rumspringa.

What are THE different ways smaller groups of Amish communities celebrate Rumspringa besides parties?

Many times the smaller groups of  Amish youth in a smaller Amish community celebrate with a little more freedom in decision-making on family and personal life matters,  more time after events such as after church, during holidays, and more personal time after chores are done. 

Do some Amish communities not celebrate Rumspringa at all?

Yes, many Amish communities don't celebrate Rumspringa at ALL!! Many Amish people have never even heard of Rumspringa as a time for young Amish teens, such as in the community in Tennessee.

What amount of Amish teens return to an Amish lifestyle and are baptized into the Amish church after Rumspringa?

Rumspringa: Amish Teens Venture into Modern Vices from Talk of the Nation on NPR had an article that referred to and featured an excerpt from the book Rumspringa: To Be or Not To Be Amish by Tom Shachtman. Tom's research showed about 80% of Amish teens return to the Amish lifestyle after Rumspringa. 

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