Amish Rumspringa: Traditional Culture

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  • Topic: Amish, Rumspringa, Mennonite
  • Pages : 6 (2419 words )
  • Download(s) : 25
  • Published : February 18, 2013
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Amish Rumspringa

The modern society is characterized by rapid technological advancement accompanied by changes in behavior of people across the world, especially youth. This makes it very hard for traditional societies to thrive hence perpetuation of conventional cultures is at stake. For one North American community known as the Amish however, modernization has been met with resistance as the society continues to practice its traditional culture, especially the Rumspringa, a rite of passage that initiates youth into adulthood. Having had a sufficient experience of life outside church boundaries, the fear of being shunned by the society and a sense of responsibility regarding continuity of the Amish culture makes most Amish youth return home and to the Amish church after the Rumspringa period is over. As Shachtman indicates, Rumspringa is a word that has Pennsylvania Dutch origin, whose interpretation means ‘running around’ (Shachtman 5). It also has German roots, implying ‘space’. Rumspringa period begins as soon as boys and girls reach sixteen years of age and it goes on for about five to ten more years. It is a time when girls and boys have complete freedom from their parents and the entire community. The two groups have to put up with the outrageously immoral characters displayed by some youth in the Rumspringa age such as girls smoking cigarettes and even consuming alcohol. It is common for the youth to converse in the loudest of voices with members of the opposite sex. Such conversations are usually characterized by flirtatious words and sexy hints at each other. Eventually, these groups of youth end up in dances and thereafter, indulge in sex. Most common is the indulgence in first time use of modern fast cars, rock and rap music. One leading reason as to why most of the youth revert back to normal Amish lifestyle, settle and decide to join the church after the occasion is over, is the experience they have during Rumspringa. Rumspringa lasts for at least five years within which boys and girls have an ample time to do all the worldly things that they so much desire. The period marks a transition between childhood and adulthood hence whatever youth do during Rumspringa is completely up to them hence after they have had enough of it, they settle down and join the church. From the mode of dressing to boundless freedom from the entire society, youth engage in all activities that they had ever thought of such that when the season comes to an end, they will have matured to become all round people. During Rumspringa, the dressing mode changes tremendously and most youth use cell phones publicly for the first time in their life. The manner of speaking, walking and other behavior tends to resemble that of the English people. A number of girls lose their virginity during the occasion and some of them even bring boys to their parents’ home and majority of the boys engage in meaningless fist fights. Consumption of illicit drugs such as marijuana and cocaine increases during ‘Rumspringa’. Youth who never know how such drugs feel like, have a chance to try out for the first time. This marks the turning point in the lives of many youth who even after Rumspringa ends, begin to officially and publicly consume such drugs in large amounts. Watching movies is the most common practice. Many parties are held on weekends in deserted and semi-deserted locations and are attended by a large percentage of Amish youth in their teenage years. Hair styles change: boys brandish long hair and crew cuts (Shachtman 4). During Rumspringa, youth feel less obliged to explain their behaviors to parents. They may spend many hours away from their homes without permission from their parents and upon coming back home, most of them do not bother to explain what they were doing, where they were and with whom. Initially before the occasion, the trend of most Amish families is that youth have to obtain permission to go out and in case they delay for several...
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