domingo, 27 de octubre de 2013


Dark clothes and located in the eastern coast of the USA in New England and the Middle colonies… Well, I have to confess that I thought both of them were the same people the very first time I read about them in a book and I saw them on a TV programme. However, despite showing some common features, they also show several differences that define them. We are talking, by the way, about the English Puritans and the Amish community.

To start with, the English Puritans make up with the radical part of the Anglican Church founded by Henry VIII who, in origin, didn’t consider himself a Protestant since he even had been declared “Defender of the Faith” by the Roman Church for his words attacking Martin Luther, a German Protestant. However, as the Protestant Reformation was advancing in Europe with two leading figures, Martin Luther and John Calvin, the Anglican Church ended up being swallowed by Protestantism. Moreover, his break up with Rome linked him more with Protestantism, from which Puritans emerged. Nowadays, the concept of Puritan doesn’t exist on its own, but people say Puritans have evolved into what is now known as Baptist religion.

On the other hand, Amish come from Switzerland and the religion they practise is Anabaptist, which means that they give their children the chance to discover by themselves another lifestyle different from the Amish. In that search for their identity, they can either choose that distinct life or get baptized and belong to the Amish community forever.

Regarding the time frame, Puritans migrated to the USA during the 1600s as opposed to the Amish who did it in the XVIIIth century, although the Amish community grew in Switzerland around 1693. Nevertheless, they shared a common purpose when migrating to the states: practising their religion freely. And the Amish did it; they could be able to practise it with freedom and let others to have their own beliefs. However, it didn’t happen with Puritans, who took up the cause of this religious freedom when settling down in the colony of Jamestown. Paradoxically, they didn’t tolerate other peoples’ religions as the 1692 Witchcraft Trials or the English Cavaliers left proof of.

Furthermore, when they migrated to the USA, both groups settled in different places. On the one hand, the so called Pilgrim Fathers started their new life in New England, more specifically in a place known as Plymouth, the same name as the English port where they came from.
Sturbridge Village
Salem Village
Nowadays, in fact, there are several landmarks which have left clear evidence of the Puritans’ existence: Old Sturbridge Village, which is a living setting representing the life of these first Pilgrims, as well as Salem Village, so remembered by the Witchcraft Trials. Both places are near Boston, in the state of Massachussetts. 

Amish village
The Amish community mainly settled in other states where any tourist can visit them today: in the Lancaster county of the city of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), the city of Arcola (Illinois) and Ohio. In all these places we can witness their outfit and lifestyles.

The Puritans dressed in a very simple way; men wore collars outside armour, cloaks and gowns, jerkings and stockings with boots whereas women dressed in a coif, shift and apron (these three pieces were usually white); a waistcoat, petticoats and shoes, all of them in black. 
Puritans thought that all pleasures in life such as fine clothes, any kind of entertainment like drama performances, drinking alcohol or simply celebrating Christmas were sin for them or anyone enjoying them. In fact, many people were punished with death when they were found making use of any of the previous areas. Here lies their religious bigotry. The Amish, on the contrary, do celebrate Christmas.

The Amish wear very simple clothes. Women wear calf-length plain-cut dresses in a solid color. White or black aprons (depending on their marital status) are often worn together with a cape pinned into the apron and bonnets whose color varies depending on their age.
Men typically wear dark-colored trousers, some with a dark vest or coat, suspenders (in some communities), broad-rimmed straw hats in the warmer months, and black felt hats in the colder months. Married men and those over forty grow a beard. Mustaches are forbidden, because they are associated with European military officers and militarism in general. A beard may serve the same symbolic function: humility and the years of marriage. From the Wikipedia.

The Amish travel with buggies (cars pushed by horses) which are their only means of transport, unless they need a car for emergency cases. They don’t believe in progress such as electricity (they use gas) or make use of other energy resources like wind mills. They don’t have mobile phones because they say they don’t need them at all. Moreover, any other form of progress such as internet is rejected since, according to them, it is a way to have access to obscenity. 
Men are usually farmers,carpenters and ranchers. Women are housewives and their main role is based on housekeeping and the care of their children (they normally have seven or eight children). They are also in charge of their education (they teach them some subjects such as Latin, English, Geography or German, the language in which their religious books are written). Those who go to school stay there until they are 15 years old and then they usually work in their businesses.
The seventh art has perfectly known how to reflect the existence of these two communities which are, at least, enigmatic. The Puritans (The Scarlet Letter, The Crucible, To Kill a King) or the Amish (Witness, Sarah Cain, Pure True).

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