The traditional Amish youth period of Rumspringa
by Amish 101
Among the Amish, Rumspringa simply refers to adolescence. During the period known as Rumspringa, beginning at about age 16, Amish youth are no longer under the total control of their parents on weekends and, because they are not baptized, they are not yet under the authority of the church. During this time, many Amish youth adhere to traditional Amish behavior. Others experiment with “worldly” activities like buying a car, going to movies, or wearing non-Amish clothes. Contrary in the media. Rumspringa-age youth typically live at home until after joining the church and then getting married and moving into their own homes.
During Rumspringa, Amish youth enter a time of greater social activity. Traditional youth activities include volleyball, swimming, ice skating, picnics, hiking, and large outdoor “supper” parties. The most typical gatherings are “singings.” Groups meet in a home and sing German hymns and English gospel songs for several hours and then enjoy a time of conversation and food.
One of the purposes of Rumspringa is to find a mate. Amish begin dating during this period, and most eventually find a “special friend”. Amish youth dating activities vary by community.
Amish youth may be discreet about their dating. Dating typically begins when a young man offers a young lady a ride home after the Sunday night singing.
A dating couple may exchange letters and see each other mainly on weekends. A couple may date for a year or longer before a young man may ask for marriage. He will also seek out the blessing of her parents.
If all goes to plan, the couple will inform the deacon, who then “publishes” their intent to marry, or in other words, their plans will be announced to the church. Preparations for a wedding will ensue.
Rumspringa ends with baptism into the church.