Indiana has granted a permit for wine sales to a local hotel in Shipshewana (or just plain Ship-she), the tourist center of the northern Indiana Amish settlement. Shipshe is a historically dry town. Seems some residents are pretty upset.
Some cite Amish traditions as a reason for keeping the town booze-free.
We might think that drinking is not a part of the culture, but Amish and alcohol can and do mix. Most famously, it’s Rumspringa-age youth, but in the decentralized Amish system, there is no across-the-board Mormon-like principle against consumption.
So it would probably depend more on the community and custom, and of course individual preference.
New Order Amish are completely against it. Alcohol, like tobacco and bed courtship, was one of the sticking points that caused them to split off in the 60’s. In the Old Order world it’s not so clear-cut.
I once sat with an Amishman in central Indiana as he told me, with something akin to horror, of a settlement in another state where hard liquor was customary on greeting a visitor. Sounds more like Polish custom now that I think about it.
I’ve noticed the odd bottle of hard stuff on Amish shelves a couple times; I’ve bumped into a dad or two having a Saturday night brew. Amish may have a celebratory drink at weddings. Homemade spirits like wine or cider were perhaps more common in the past.
One writer in Hostetler’s Amish Roots describes her father’s long battle with alcoholism, and his eventual triumph over it, thanks in part to Alcoholics Anonymous.
But on the public stage, if not the private, the Amish really aren’t that big on drinking. As Donald Kraybill puts it in The Riddle of Amish Culture: ‘Alcohol abuse, present among some youth, is practically nil among adults’.
Concerning the youth, some parents look the other way. But others put time and effort trying to crack down on it.
This eye-opener of an article describes collaboration between the Amish and local law enforcement. One case ends in a couple of nights in jail for a pair of cocky underage drinkers.
When asked why he chose such a harsh approach, the judge involved replies that ‘their elders want me to treat them like that’.
So Shipshewana may no longer be dry, but it’s not likely to change much.
You’ll still be a lot more likely to catch an Amish fella with a cold can of Dew, a piping-hot cup of coffee, or a tin of straight-from-the-udder raw milk, than a cool Bud.
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The Amish do have a German heritage after all, and the Germans do drink.
The Amish ambivalence about alcohol was a surprise me when I first started visiting their communities years ago…..for some reason I had it in my mind that the Amish wouldn’t drink at all….but your post said it well, it really just depends on the person, not a centralized church edict….I’ve sipped Amish-made, homemade dandelion wine (yum) and seen plenty of cases of beer being bought by Amish……but, as you say, others won’t get near it…kind of mirrors the non-Amish population….
I’m not sure why I think this, but someone must have told me this once: Do most “edicts” in the Amish community come from the local Bishop?
How Amish edicts change over time
Hi Melissa–Most of the ‘big-time’ edicts come from the Bible of course, but when you get down to the cultural issues of say, what kind of clothes are acceptable (which is what I think you’re talking about-?), it’s usually a bit more democratic, ie if there is enough support for a change–say to allow a certain type of farm technology–there is usually something like a vote held. If people can agree on a change, great, but there is always the potential for a split or dissatisfied members leaving for a more liberal or conservative congregation. The rules for a particular district are reviewed twice a year at a special church service held just prior to the Communion service.
The Bishop is charged with upholding the agreed community standards among his members, enforcing the rules with the help of his deacon and ministers. He’s not really a totalitarian figure as much as it might seem, ie he doesn’t legislate so much as executes.
Kevin–dandelion wine–sounds great–I can’t imagine what that’s like. Maybe I will get a shot to try, I will be in Holmes County in 2 weeks.
It seems a bit contradictory to not drive or have modern conveniences, which seems to be a type of gross abstinence, to allowing drinking and teens getting in each other’s beds and doing who know’s what. Teens in bed is just insane.
Hi, I have a question but please don’t post my name on the site. My husband and I live in Northern Ontario. We are not Amish but we live in style as in faith the Amish way. Do you know of any churches we can look into with thease morals. We find it hard on our own and the way people talk we need a good church community.
I work at as the Associate Winemaker at Fenn Valley Vineyards, in SW Michigan. The other Saturday a large bus load of Amish stoped at the winery and tasted and bought wine here. I doubt it’s for their chickens.
Amish red beet wine
Vernon, you are probably right, unless that is a new poultry raising technique I’m unaware of!
When I’m among Amish friends I see the differing attitudes toward alcohol.
At one home, an occasional social glass of homemade (fairly strong!) red beet wine is offered as a treat. In another, alcohol is off-limits for all members of the family–and that particular church as a whole takes a hard line against alcohol. It really varies among Amish churches and individuals.
Don’t know about their drinking habits, but I know they do make moonshine in Missouri. There’s a mason jar full (well, about 3/4 full maybe) in the fridge. It’s not mine. and since I don’t drink, I can’t attest to the quality, but I’ll bet as moonshine goes, it’s good.
One of younger friends in Mt. Hope (around 32-ish) very much enjoys an “ice-cold” beer after a long day in the shop during the summer heat. Also, many families make their own wine and bottle it for use during their “communion” Sunday that is held twice per year.
wine and amish
I must add to this post and thought of taking the bread as the body of Christ and drinking the wine as the blood of Christ as well. Nothing is more sacrid than breaking bread and drinking from the blood. It’s what the apostles did on the last supper w Jesus.
Do the Amish drink?
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I’ve seen plenty of amish around my community but cases and cases of beer, however I have never seen them buy the “hard” stuff.
I grew up in Lancaster County. My parents befriended an Amish family when I was a baby, that we still keep in touch with 40 years later. I would spend weeks on their farm, “dressing Amish” and doing everything their kids did, with the exception of attending church services. My dad was a hospital administrator, and one winter, while visiting the family, he noticed that their oldest son, John, had a severely broken nose that was almost flattened. At first he was told that he broke it when he slipped on the ice, but they finally confessed that be broke it falling flat on his face on the ice…coming out of a bar, completely drunk! He was on an “extended” Rumspringa, so this was casually dismissed. Once becoming a member of the church, they were no longer allowed to drink publicly or socially, but it was a personal/family choice to have a drink with your family at home.