Do Amish Shake Hands? Understanding the Amish Culture and Customs

The Amish, a community known for its simple way of living and traditional practices, has been a subject of curiosity for many. One of the most common questions asked about the Amish is whether they shake hands with outsiders or not. As someone who has spent time living among the Amish, I can attest to the fact that this is a complex issue.

On the surface, it may seem like a simple yes or no answer, but when you delve deeper into the culture and beliefs of the Amish, you will realize that it is far from it. The Amish take their customs and traditions seriously, and a handshake is more than just a greeting for them. It is a symbol of respect, trust, and faith.

To understand whether or not the Amish shake hands, we must first explore their beliefs and way of living. From their dress to their technology-free lifestyle, the Amish have managed to maintain their unique identity and way of life despite living in a rapidly changing world. So let’s delve deeper into the fascinating world of the Amish and find out whether they do shake hands or not.

Amish customs and traditions

The Amish are a group of traditionalist Christians who live in rural areas across the United States and Canada. They follow a distinctive way of life, which revolves around their strong religious beliefs, community, and simplicity. The Amish customs and traditions are unique and have been passed down for generations.

  • Dress Code: The Amish dress code is simple, and they wear long dresses and head coverings for women and plain shirts, trousers, and suspenders for men. They do not use buttons, zippers, or other fasteners.
  • Language: The Amish speak a German dialect known as Pennsylvania German or Pennsylvania Dutch. They use English only when necessary for dealing with outsiders.
  • Technology: The Amish do not use any modern technology, such as electricity, cars, or telephones. They believe that dependence on technology leads to temptation and worldly distractions that pull them away from their faith.

Amish people place a high value on community and maintaining a close-knit group of friends and family. They participate in group activities such as singing, quilting, and barn raising. They also value humility, modesty, and hard work. They prefer to live a simple life and avoid extravagance and excess.

However, one common question outsiders often ask about the Amish is whether they shake hands. The answer is that it depends on the specific group and the situation. Some Amish groups firmly believe that handshaking is too intimate and leads to temptation, while others find it acceptable in certain situations.

Acceptable Situations Unacceptable Situations
Business meetings with outsiders Casual greetings with outsiders
Church services with other Christians Social events with non-Amish individuals
Weddings and funerals with non-Amish relatives Casual interactions with non-Amish individuals

Overall, the Amish customs and traditions are deeply rooted in their faith and community. They strive to live a simple life and focus on maintaining strong relationships with those around them. While their way of life may seem foreign to outsiders, it is important to respect their beliefs and values.

Importance of Greetings in Amish Culture

The Amish community’s culture places a significant emphasis on manners and cordiality, particularly when it comes to greetings and farewells. They are taught from an early age to greet others in a friendly manner and show respect, especially to elderly and authority figures. Amish greetings are much more than a simple “hello” or a handshake. They are meaningful and reflect the values and beliefs of the community as a whole.

According to the Amish tradition, greeting someone is a way of acknowledging their value and worth as a person. When conducting business, socializing, or meeting a stranger, it is customary to take the time to greet them formally and respectfully. It is also important to use appropriate titles such as “Mr.” or “Mrs.,” and to address individuals by their proper names.

The Importance of Handshakes in Amish Culture

  • The handshake is a common greeting among the Amish, but there are rules and expectations surrounding this gesture.
  • The handshake should be firm but not overly aggressive or prolonged.
  • It is important to look the other person in the eye and smile when shaking hands.

The Role of Greetings in Building Community

Greetings play a vital role in building and maintaining the Amish community. By regularly greeting one another, the Amish foster a sense of belonging and togetherness. They view each other as fellow members of a larger community, and showing respect and kindness is a way of reinforcing this bond.

Moreover, greetings are a way of creating a social network that can support the community during difficult times. When tragedy strikes, such as a death or illness, the Amish rally around one another and offer support in various ways. The strong bonds that are created through regular greetings and interactions help to ensure that the community remains resilient during hard times.


In conclusion, the Amish culture places great importance on greetings, as they are seen as a way of showing respect, acknowledging worth, and building community bonds. Whether it is a handshake, a smile, or simply a kind word, greetings play a significant role in Amish daily life. By understanding the importance of greetings, we can better appreciate the value of building and maintaining strong social connections.

Key Takeaways:
Amish greetings are more than just a simple hello or handshake, they reflect the values and beliefs of the community as a whole.
Handshakes are a common Amish greeting, and individuals are expected to follow specific rules and etiquette when shaking hands.
Greetings play a critical role in building and maintaining strong community bonds and supporting one another during challenging times.

The Amish culture serves as a reminder of the importance of showing respect, kindness, and friendship to those around us. By taking the time to acknowledge others and build connections, we can create a more resilient and supportive society.

Perception of Physical Touch in Amish Society

In Amish society, physical touch is viewed in a very different way compared to mainstream society.

Their beliefs towards physical touch are deeply rooted in their religious convictions, which emphasizes the need to maintain a clear and distinct separation from the non-Amish world, a principle known as “Gelassenheit.” As a result, physical touch is generally avoided in everyday interactions with non-family members.

However, it’s essential to emphasize that the Amish community is not fundamentally anti-social or hostile to others. In fact, the Amish are known for their warmth and hospitality towards visitors, especially those that they know well. Rather, the Amish are very cautious about who they physically interact with, and only close family members and friends are given such treatment.

Amish Social Customs Regarding Physical Touch

  • Handshakes: Handshakes are common among Amish people, but only among close relatives and friends. In more formal or unfamiliar settings, a nod or a verbal greeting is more appropriate.
  • Hugging: Hugging is not prevalent in Amish society, and it is usually reserved for close family members or in situations where a friendly embrace is warranted.
  • Kissing: Kissing is highly inappropriate in Amish society. The practice is seen as too intimate and violates the Gelassenheit principle, which emphasizes humility, submission, and simplicity.

Importance of Maintaining Distinct Separation from the Non-Amish World

Physical touch is one of the ways that the Amish maintain a clear distinction between themselves and the rest of the world. By limiting physical touch to close family members and trusted friends, the Amish community can create a sense of unity and solidarity within their group. It also serves as a way to stay separate from the modern world, which is often seen as decadent and corrupt. The Amish community believes that by preserving their traditional ways and staying separate from mainstream society, they can maintain their religious and cultural identity.


The Amish perception of physical touch is closely tied to their deep religious convictions. While physical touch between close family members and friends is common, it is generally avoided with outsiders and those outside the Amish community. This practice allows the Amish to maintain their cultural identity and distinct separation from the non-Amish world, which is essential to their religious beliefs and way of life.

Amish Society Customs Perception of Physical Touch
Handshakes Common among close relatives and friends; avoided in formal or unfamiliar settings.
Hugging Reserved only for close family members or in situations where a friendly embrace is warranted.
Kissing Considered too intimate and a violation of the Gelassenheit principle.

The Amish community’s approach towards physical touch highlights the importance of cultural beliefs and how they influence behavior in society.

Communication methods among the Amish community

The Amish community is known for their traditional and simple way of life, which includes their unique communication methods. From face-to-face interactions to letter writing, the Amish use different modes of communication that are not commonly used in modern society.

1. Verbal Communication
Verbal communication is one of the most essential and common types of communication methods among the Amish. They prefer to communicate face-to-face or in small groups, using both English and Pennsylvania Dutch languages. The Amish are known for their strong sense of community, so personal interactions and conversations are valued in their culture.

2. Written Communication
In the Amish culture, letter writing is a common way to express their thoughts and feelings. They prefer to communicate through handwritten letters rather than through technology. It allows them to establish a deeper connection with the person they are contacting. Many Amish people believe that letters are more personal and convey more emotions than an email or text.

3. Non-Verbal Communication
The Amish also use non-verbal communication methods such as eye contact, facial expressions, and body language to convey their message. They believe in giving ample space to hear each other’s opinions, so they use these non-verbal cues to indicate that they are listening and engaged in the conversation.

4. No Handshakes
One of the surprising communication methods among the Amish is the absence of handshakes. Despite being a common way of greeting in the modern world, the Amish do not practice it. This is because they believe that handshakes can convey too much physical intimacy with people who are not family or close friends.

Overall, the Amish’s communication methods reflect their value and respect for simplicity and personal relationships. While it may seem different from modern communication methods, it serves as a reminder of the importance of personal connections and authenticity in our communication.

Traditional greeting phrases used by the Amish

Amish greetings differ from mainstream American culture. They express their respect, love, and humility for each other through phrases while keeping their manners simple and plain.

  • “Goot Besserung” means “Get Better.” They say this to someone who is sick, wishing them good health.
  • “Grossi” or “Grossmama” means “Grandmother,” while “Grossdi” or “Grosspapa” means “Grandfather.” The terms of address show their reverence and regard to elders.
  • “Schweschder” refers to “Sister,” and “Brudder” means “Brother.” The Amish use these simple greetings to their fellow members.

Amish families typically kiss on the cheek instead of shaking hands when greeting their relatives. But when non-Amish people visit them, they may shake hands as a sign of respect and goodwill, but it’s not a common practice within Amish communities.

The Amish people’s greetings show their strong connection with their family, faith, and community. They emphasize humility, respect, and sincerity – qualities that have endured throughout their long history.

If you are curious about the Amish culture and want to learn more, try reading books or watching documentaries about them. You might find yourself captivated by their unique way of life and the values they hold.

English Amish
Hello Gruessi
Goodbye Bis die shtund
How are you? Wie gaischt dei?
Thank you Dank scheen

The Amish language, known as Pennsylvania Dutch, is a combination of German, English, and Dutch. Although their language is not as widely spoken as it once was, you can still hear them use it in their daily interactions.

Differences in Amish greeting customs among various sects and communities

Amish communities follow strict traditions and customs that have been passed down for generations. One of the most notable differences among various Amish sects and communities is their greeting customs.

The most common Amish greeting is a simple nod or wave, often accompanied by a smile. However, the specific customs surrounding physical contact and verbal greetings vary widely. Here are six distinct differences in Amish greeting customs:

  • Handshakes: While some Amish sects permit handshaking among members of the same sex, others restrict physical contact with outsiders or frown upon it altogether.
  • Bowing: Certain Amish communities may bow their heads or bodies slightly as a sign of respect or greeting.
  • Hugging: Physical contact beyond a handshake is generally reserved for close family members in most Amish communities, though some may permit hugging among women or within certain contexts.
  • Kissing: Kissing during greetings is rare in Amish communities, though some may embrace this practice as a sign of affection among close family or friends.
  • Verbal greetings: While “hello” and “goodbye” are common in English-speaking Amish communities, other sects may use traditional German greetings, such as “Guten Tag” or “Grüß Gott.”
  • Silence: Some Amish sects prefer to greet each other in silence, particularly during worship services or formal occasions.

It’s important to note that these customs may vary even within the same Amish community or family, and visitors are generally encouraged to follow the lead of their hosts when greeting members of the Amish community.

In summary, the Amish have distinct greeting customs that vary widely among different sects and communities. Whether through handshakes, hugs, verbal greetings, or silence, these customs reflect the unique traditions and beliefs of the Amish people.

Amish Greeting Custom Allowed among outsiders? Allowed among members of the same sex? Allowed within the same family?
Handshakes Varies among sects and communities Varies among sects and communities Varies among sects and communities
Bowing Generally allowed Generally allowed Generally allowed
Hugging Rare among outsiders Varies among sects and communities Allowed among close family members
Kissing Uncommon Uncommon Allowed among close family or friends
Verbal greetings Varies among sects and communities Varies among sects and communities Varies among sects and communities
Silence Rare among outsiders Allowed among members of the same sect or family Varies among sects and communities

Table: Comparison of Amish greeting customs

Reasons why some Amish people choose not to shake hands

While some Amish people are open to shaking hands, there are those who choose not to. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Religious beliefs: For some Amish sects, physical contact with strangers is perceived as an act of immodesty that goes against their religious beliefs. The Amish believe in humility, simplicity, and separation from the world, which includes avoiding physical contact with others.
  • Disease prevention: Another reason why some Amish people avoid shaking hands is to minimize the spread of germs. The communal lifestyle of the Amish makes them particularly vulnerable to contagious diseases. By avoiding physical contact, they hope to prevent the transmission of illnesses.
  • Cultural norms: Amish people see themselves as a distinct community with different cultural practices from the mainstream American society. Shaking hands is not a universal practice in all cultures, and the Amish prefer not to adopt it as it goes against their traditional practices. Instead, they may greet others with a nod or a smile.

Despite their reservations about shaking hands, the Amish have developed other means of showing respect and warmth towards their visitors. For instance, they may prepare a meal for their guests or make small talk to show their appreciation. By sharing their way of life and culture, the Amish aim to build stronger relationships with their neighbors and foster better understanding between their community and the outside world.

Here is a table that summarizes the reasons why some Amish people choose not to shake hands:

Reasons for Avoiding Handshakes
Religious beliefs
Disease prevention
Cultural norms

Overall, the Amish approach to physical contact reflects their unique cultural values and religious beliefs. By seeking to minimize physical contact with outsiders, they hope to preserve their way of life and promote their distinctive practices and customs.

Amish religious beliefs and how they relate to handshaking

The Amish people are known for their conservative, faith-based lifestyle that values simplicity, humility, and separation from the world. Their religious beliefs, rooted in the Anabaptist tradition, influence their daily practices and interactions with others, including their attitudes towards handshaking.

  • The Amish believe in nonviolence and peacefulness, which they interpret as not participating in any form of violence, including military service, political involvement, or law enforcement.
  • They are also committed to being truthful and sincere, and avoiding anything that could be considered showy or pretentious.
  • The Amish place a high value on community and family, so their interactions with others are guided by the principle of showing respect to authority and kindness to others.

These beliefs have a direct impact on the practice of handshaking among the Amish. While handshaking is common in mainstream American culture as a gesture of greeting, introduction, and agreement, the Amish have specific guidelines for when and how handshaking should take place.

First and foremost, the Amish avoid any physical contact with members of the opposite sex who are not related to them by blood or marriage. This is based on their belief in sexual purity and avoiding any appearance of impropriety. As a result, Amish men will only shake hands with other men, and Amish women will only shake hands with other women.

In addition to this gender separation, the Amish also avoid handshake-based greetings in some situations that may seem necessary or appropriate in other cultures. For example, an Amish person may not shake hands in church, during a meal, or while someone is engaged in manual labor. This is seen as a way to show respect for the context and to avoid interrupting important activities or events.

Situations where Amish people may avoid shaking hands:
During a church service or prayer
While someone is eating or drinking
While someone is working with their hands

Despite these restrictions, the Amish still value respectful and friendly interactions with others, and they have developed alternative greetings that are acceptable within their culture. These might include a nod, a wave, or a simple verbal greeting. These gestures allow for a sense of connection without violating any of the Amish guidelines for physical contact.

Overall, handshaking is just one example of the complex ways in which the Amish religious beliefs influence their everyday practices and interactions. By understanding these guidelines and alternative greetings, we can increase our respect for and understanding of this unique culture.

The Role of Body Language in Amish Communication

Amish culture is rooted in the belief that community takes priority over the self. This idea is reflected not only in their strict religious practices, but also in their communication style. The Amish place a high value on non-verbal communication, or body language, as a way to express themselves and understand others. Here are the ways in which body language plays a crucial role in Amish communication:

  • Minimal use of facial expressions: In Amish culture, direct eye contact and showing facial expressions that may be interpreted as aggressive, confrontational or inappropriate is not permitted. Thus, people’s facial expressions are usually blank, and the tone of voice is neutral.
  • Gesture and posture: The Amish people usually express themselves through their gestures and posture. Gestures such as nodding and gesturing with hands are common. Posture is important and should always reflect humility and respect towards others.
  • Touch: Physical contact such as hugging or handshaking is rare in Amish culture. The Amish only shake hands when they are greeting someone outside of their community and require a handshake. Touch has often been considered inappropriate within their religious communities with reserved intimacy.

It is easy to assume that the Amish people are unemotional due to their limited use of facial expressions. But the truth is, body language can be just as expressive as spoken language. It takes practice and careful attention to understand the subtle nuances in body language. In this way, the Amish people have developed a richness in body language, which further strengthens their bond with their community.

Overall, the body language plays a vital role in Amish communication. It is a tool to express themselves, understanding each other, and maintaining harmony within their community.

Etiquette for non-Amish people when interacting with the Amish community

As outsiders, it’s important to be respectful of Amish culture and traditions when interacting with their community. Here are some tips for proper etiquette:

Do not initiate physical contact with an Amish person

  • The Amish do not shake hands with members of the opposite sex or with non-Amish individuals.
  • Do not take offense if an Amish person does not shake your hand, this is just a part of their custom.
  • If an Amish person offers to shake hands, it is appropriate to accept the gesture.

Respect their clothing and appearance

The Amish dress in a way that follows their religious beliefs. Their clothing is modest and simple. It’s important to respect their customs and avoid staring or making disrespectful comments about their appearance.

Be mindful of taking photos

The Amish do not typically allow photographs of themselves, due to their religious beliefs. It’s important to ask for permission before taking photos of their community, and follow their wishes if they decline.

Do’s Don’ts
Respect their religious beliefs Make inappropriate comments about their beliefs
Be friendly and polite Attempt to engage in debate or argue about their beliefs
Ask permission before taking photos Take photos of Amish people without their consent

Avoid discussing technology

The Amish live without technology, such as phones, computers, and cars. It’s important to be mindful of this and avoid bringing up technology in conversation.

Interacting with the Amish community can be an enlightening and educational experience. By following proper etiquette, we can show respect for their traditions and enrich our own cultural understanding.

Do Amish Shake Hands? – 7 FAQs About Amish Culture

Are you curious about the Amish culture and their customs? One of the most common questions people ask is whether or not Amish people shake hands. Here are seven frequently asked questions about Amish handshaking practices:

1. Do Amish people shake hands with each other? Yes, they do. However, the practice varies from community to community.

2. Do Amish shake hands with outsiders? Again, it depends on the community. Some Amish people will shake hands with non-Amish people, while others will not.

3. Why do some Amish people not shake hands with outsiders? The reason is that they believe physical touch should be reserved for family and close friends. They also want to avoid spreading germs.

4. What should I do if I meet an Amish person? You can offer a handshake, but don’t be offended if they decline. Just smile and say hello.

5. Are there any times when Amish people always shake hands? Yes, during church services, Amish people will shake hands with each other as a sign of peace.

6. What is the proper way to greet an Amish person? It’s always polite to say “hello” and introduce yourself. If you offer a handshake, do it gently and respectfully.

7. How important is handshaking in Amish culture? While handshaking is not a central part of Amish culture, it’s still an important way to show respect and establish relationships.

The Bottom Line

Whether or not Amish people shake hands may seem like a small detail, but it’s important to understand their customs and culture. Remember, when in doubt, be respectful and polite. Thanks for reading and come back soon for more interesting articles about fascinating cultures.