You may have heard the term “Swiss Amish” used to describe certain Amish groups.  The term “Swiss” refers to a separate ethnicity within Old Order society, in contrast to Pennsylvania German-ethnicity Amish (the majority of Amish today).

Swiss Amish have specific customs and cultural markers.  I first encountered Swiss Amish in the Allen County, Indiana settlement, and immediately noticed distinguishing characteristics.

swiss amish family

Even someone without a deep knowledge of the Amish can notice some differences between Swiss and Pennsylvania German-ethnicity Amish.  For example, Swiss Amish drive only open-top carriages (bring an umbrella), and Swiss surnames tend to be specific to Swiss Amish communities.  There are other differences as well.

Customs of Swiss Amish include:

  • Yodeling-Swiss Amish are the only Amish to maintain this European practice
  • Wooden grave markers-Swiss Amish mark the graves of their dead with simple wood markers rather than using grave stones
  • Different dialect-Swiss Amish speak a dialect which differs from the Pennsylvania German spoken by most Amish

Read more on the culture, customs and history of the Swiss Amish.

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