Your Lucky Star #14926

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The Story

Here’s a metal barn star decoration hung high on white barn doors made of rough sawn wood. The worn boards show some of their sawmill birthmarks and some woodsy lineage in their painted over knots. A small duck-through man door is on the right, one made to fit into the larger interior door bracing.

Like the superstition of hanging a horseshoe for good luck, metal barn stars serve as a hex sign to ward off evil. Originally, the protecting stars were an idea brought over by German immigrant farmers 300 years ago. Of course, the Amish and Mennonite religious refugees figured in the proliferation of the hex sign and it is often attributed to them. In fact, the word hex is derived from hexe, the German word for witch.

Stars were first painted onto barns by those earlier people. Later, they were made from wood and metal scraps meant to be hung up. Today, you can find metal barn stars as decoration most anywhere. They come in many different styles but they go back quite a long way to their simpler roots. Superstition or not, it’s not a bad idea to spread a little luck around, I would think.

As a little sidebar detail, there are metal stay pins along the bottom of these barn doors. Those pins drop into holes in the cement as needed to secure the doors. Barns are built to be breezy and self-ventilate; you want air going through them at all times due to the danger of spontaneous hay combustion. That’s why there are cracks between barn siding boards and louvers and roof ventilators.

However, in storms and high winds barn doors can go flying outward and swing back and forth from wind building up behind them inside the building. Imagine my surprise to see the heavy barn doors swinging in strong wind and rain at the horse place where I once worked! It also knocked them off their tracks too, and it’s a manly job to get them hung properly again, trust me.

Location: outside Thurmont, Frederick County, Maryland. Image and text © Andrew Dierks

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