Can Amish men shave?

The Amish are a traditional Christian group known for their simple way of life and plain dress. Amish men are easily recognized by their beards, which they grow once they are married. This leads many people to wonder – can Amish men shave? Here is a look at the facts behind Amish beard traditions.

The Religious Basis for Amish Beards

The requirement for married Amish men to grow a beard is based on religious beliefs. Amish follow a very literal interpretation of the Bible. They believe that certain verses prohibit them from trimming their beards. These include:

  • Leviticus 19:27 – “You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard.”
  • Leviticus 21:5 – “They shall not make any baldness on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts in their flesh.”

From these verses, the Amish believe that once a man is married, he must not trim or shave his beard. A long, untrimmed beard is seen as a symbol of an Amish man’s marriage and commitment to the faith.

When Do Amish Men Begin Growing a Beard?

Most Amish men begin growing a beard immediately after getting married. Amish weddings generally take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the fall harvesting months. The morning after the wedding, the new husband will shave off any facial hair he already has. This signifies a fresh start. From that day forward, he will let his beard grow untouched by razor or scissors.

Some Amish men may start trimming their beards several weeks before their wedding date. This gives the beard a neat, even start when the growing period officially begins.

If an Amish man ends up with a patchy or uneven beard later on, he will simply let it fill in over time. Trimming and shaping are not allowed.

Can Amish Men Ever Shave?

The Amish prohibition on shaving applies only to married men. Single Amish men are not permitted to grow a beard. An unwed man who starts growing a beard would face questions and criticism from the church community.

This means that single Amish men do shave. They keep their faces clean-shaven until they are married. At that point, the beard is grown and maintained untouched for the rest of the man’s life.

There are a few exceptions where a married Amish man is allowed to shave:

  • If a man’s beard is damaged by fire or accident, it may be shaved to allow for proper medical treatment.
  • Amish men who work in occupations that require the use of gas masks or respirators may receive special permission to trim or shave their beards.
  • If an Amish man becomes divorced or widowed, he is expected to shave off his beard.

Overall, it is extremely rare to see a married Amish man without a beard. The religious and cultural standards strongly discourage shaving once wed.

What About Mustaches?

Amish men are prohibited from shaving their beards, but what about mustaches? Here are the typical Amish rules regarding mustaches:

  • Mustaches are permitted but not required.
  • If an Amish man grows a mustache, he tends to do so before getting married.
  • Once married, he usually lets his mustache become part of his overall beard.
  • Trimming or styling the mustache is not allowed if it is integrated into the beard.

So in summary – mustaches are not forbidden like shaving is, but they are also not commonly seen. An Amish man would grow one before marriage and then just let it blend in with the rest of his facial hair after the wedding.

What About Amish Women?

The beard prohibition only applies to Amish men. Women, both single and married, do not grow facial hair and are not expected to.

However, Amish women also avoid cutting their hair based on the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 11:15 – “but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.” Most Amish women will twist or pin their hair up once married rather than cut it.

So Amish women focus on growing long hair rather than beards to show their faith and commitment.

Punishment for Shaving

If an Amish man disregards the religious rules and shaves his beard after marriage, there are consequences within the Amish community. These include:

  • The man would have to confess and repent to the church leaders and congregation.
  • He may be temporarily banned from communion and church activities.
  • He will be the subject of gossip, questions, and criticism, since a shaved beard is very noticeable.
  • In rare cases, repeatedly shaving could lead to excommunication and shunning if the man remains unrepentant.

These potential punishments help reinforce the seriousness of the beard tradition. Amish men understand they are expected to maintain a beard in accordance with their faith, once they choose to become baptized members of the Amish church and community.

Variations Among Amish Groups

The Amish are not a unified group – there are several divisions and subgroups with variations in their oral and cultural traditions. This means there are some small differences when it comes to beard practices:

  • Old Order Amish – The largest and most traditional group. They strictly observe the untrimmed beard.
  • New Order Amish – Slightly more progressive, but still require the beard.
  • Andy Weaver Amish – Very traditional sect that requires a longer, unkempt beard.
  • Swartzentruber Amish – The most conservative faction. Their beards are extra long and untrimmed.

The common thread is that all Amish groups require beards for married men due to religious interpretation. They may vary slightly in length, fullness, and styling, but no Amish sect permits men to be clean-shaven once wed.

Purpose and Significance of the Beard

Beyond religious obligation, the Amish beard holds additional meaning and significance:

  • It shows obedience to God’s will as expressed in the Bible.
  • It demonstrates commitment to the faith, traditions, and community.
  • It is a rite of passage into manhood and the responsibilities of marriage.
  • It is a visible marker that identifies a man as Amish.
  • A long, bushy beard projects masculinity.
  • The beard covers up vanity and emphasizes inner character.
  • It signifies wisdom that comes with age. Elders often have the longest beards.

For Amish men, the beard is both a symbol of their religious dedication and their status as honorable family men. It makes the Amish stand out from the outside world.

Understanding the Amish Beard Code

To summarize the key points that govern Amish men and beards:

  • All Amish men are clean-shaven until marriage.
  • They start growing a beard the morning after their wedding.
  • The beard cannot be trimmed or shaped once married.
  • Shaving is strictly prohibited and violates Amish beliefs.
  • Very minor trims may be allowed for safety or medical reasons.
  • Divorced or widowed men must shave their beards.
  • Long, bushy beards are preferred as they grow over time.

Understanding these Amish beard codes provides insight into the Amish way of life. The beard is an important symbol of Amish identity and commitment for men.


In the Amish faith and culture, growing an untrimmed beard is mandatory for men once they are married. Beards hold religious significance as well as social meaning for the Amish. While young and single men will shave, married Amish men are expected to never cut, trim, or shave their beards again. Violating this code brings criticism and corrective action from the church. Amish beards distinguish Amish men from the outside world and demonstrate their dedication to God, family, and tradition.

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