November 2, 2012

Barn Stars

Everyday I try to learn something new. My education is through someone else or by my own research. Yesterday I was talking to our wonderful group of ladies at Farm Chick Chit Chat. Like most chicken owners we are always looking for ways to "revamp" our coops. I took a pick of our coop and posted it. Another "Chick" commented on the Barn Star I have on it. She told me how she loved the it and told me that different colors represent something different.  Enough said, I made it my mission today to understand all things "Barn Star." So off I went to my favorite search engine!

First let me say that most of the facts are pretty much the same. Because I am so "Pro-Works Cited" I must tell you that my information comes from a variety of websites. I do not claim to own any of this information.  

 A Brief History:

The following information on  Barn Stars is taken from

 To follow the history of the barn star in North America, you must go back approximately 300 years when groups of religious refugees from the Rhine region of Germany migrated to south eastern Pennsylvania seeking religious freedom. These refugees included Amish and Mennonites - people of "plain" dress - and Lutherans and other Reformed groups of more worldly dress called "fancy". Over time, these people became known as "Pennsylvania Dutch".
 "Amish Metal Tin Barn Stars are well known as a sign of good luck and great fortune. We trust that barn stars are also very popular because it is an ornamental way of expressing our support and pride in our country."

"The tradition of the barn star in Amish country can be traced back to the 1700’s, and to at least the 1820’s in Pennsylvania. Barn stars were most popular after the Civil War. On many older Amish barns,one could see a large decoration in the shape of a star mounted on the face of the barn. Sometimes they were just aesthetic, but sometimes they represented the trademark of a specific barn builder. It is our understanding the original star shape was a three-pointed star but has changed throughout the years. Colors had significance with Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch barn paintings. These folk art designs, many of which were star shaped, were painted directly onto each end of the barn, and date back to the 1850’s.   The barn star composition has changed over the years. At first they were built directly into the barn. Later the stars were crafted from wood as a separate piece and now of metal for longer lasting with ease of changing the colors."

The colors and their meanings:

  • Black:
    Protection, also used to blend or bind elements together
  • Blue:
    Protection, peace, calmness and spirituality
  • Brown:
    Mother earth, also can mean friendship and strength
  • Green:
    Growth, fertility, success in things and ideas that grow
  • Orange:
    Abundance in career, projects and matters needing an added push
  • Red:
    Emotions, passion, charisma, lust and also creativity (How appropriate for me to have a red one! Red is my favorite color!)
  • Violet:
    Things that are sacred
  • White:
    Purity, power of the moon, allows energy to flow freely
  • Yellow:
    Health in body and mind, love of man and the sun, connection to the God
During my research I came across another form of Barn folk art, Barn Hexes. These also originate from the Amish.  I did not know what these were called, however, I knew what they were. My grandparents had one on the their garage when I was younger. I remember Gram saying this was to protect all who came to her home.  Barn Hexes were originally thought to be painted as talismans and for protection, since the word "Hex" translated in  German means "Witch." However today they are used for as decorative purposes. 

For the record, I am more in love with Barn Stars than I was before! Not just because of their primitive look and rich history, but from their origins. Recently, on another one of my family history adventures, I found that I am direct descendant of Bishop Jacob Mast, the second  Amish Mennonite Bishop for Berks and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1786. 

Could my love for these Americana icons be more of a "blood memory" for me? I could not really say. What I can say is I gained an education today. I will be proud to display Barn Stars not only for decoration, but to honor my history.


Katie/Maple Grove said...

I love them too! Really interesting Heather. Thanks for sharing your research! ~Katie

Elaine said...

we have lots of Army families in our neighborhood and they all seem to sport a star on their houses - most of the time it's black.

A Daughter of the King said...