The Amish Dowry and Gift Giving (part 1)
The Amish people are probably one of the most structured and tradition driven societies that still exist today. They live their lives pretty much the same way their ancestors lived hundreds of years ago. Through their shunning of society and its modern conveniences, the Amish choose to do things their own way, no matter how difficult it may be. It is through their strong connection to the traditional way of doing things that the Amish manage to remain a strong, close-knit, sheltered community that barely changes over time. From birth to death, the Amish live a simple life that is handed down to them from generation to generation. Because the Amish apply the old ways of life to their everyday activities, they remain closely connected to their traditions, particularly when it comes to marriage and family.
Among the many traditions that keep the Amish community strong, that of marriage and the preparation of marriage, remains one of the most important things that a young Amish girl or boy must consider. Starting in their teens, Amish girls and boys start looking for their future marriage partner. Amish teenagers date during this time in very much the same way that other teenagers date. They get together on Saturday nights with the other teenagers of the community and take buggy rides, play games, or just spend time getting to know each other. Amish teenagers are allowed to choose whoever they want to date, as long as they're Amish, and are given a fair amount of freedom during the process. Once a couple begins dating exclusively, it is usually an indication that they will eventually choose to announce their impending wedding.
Once a wedding date is set, the entire Amish community prepares for the event. All Amish daughters are given what is considered a wedding dowry once they marry. The parents of an Amish girl may have been collecting items in preparation for the dowry over many years in anticipation for her wedding day, or might begin gathering these dowry items once a wedding date has been set. The Amish pride themselves on practicality, so most Amish dowry items consist of useful items the bride and groom will use on a daily basis in their new life together. This generally includes items such as dishware, kerosene lamps, linens, clocks, canned foods, and farming tools. The Amish bride's parents are responsible for providing the major furnishings that will be used in the newlywed's new home. This might include major kitchen appliances, such as a refrigerator and stove, all the bedroom furniture, a dining room table, hutch, and cupboard, as well as other household goods. These items are often handmade or purchased new. These larger dowry items are rarely handed down over generations and are usually auctioned off once the couple dies in order to give their children an equal opportunity to purchase the items rather than being willed to them.
The Amish Dowry and Gift Giving (part 2)