The Fascinating Meaning of Barn Stars

The Meaning Behind “Barn Stars”

Barn stars, those delightful ornaments perched above barn doors, may seem like mere decorations. But did you know that they hold a special significance for German-American farmers? These stars, whether painted or made of metal, are believed to bring protection and prosperity to the farmer’s crops. The interesting part is that each barn star has its own unique meaning and color. Let’s explore the intriguing history and symbolism of barn stars!

The History of Barn Stars

Barn stars made their first appearance on barns in the 1830s, thanks to the Pennsylvania Dutch or Amish community. These beautiful emblems are actually derived from European German folk art. Descendants of the Amish are known for their simple way of life and have passed down various regional traditions and customs throughout the years.

Symbolism and Protection

Barn Stars

Barn stars are more than just decorative elements. They are believed to offer protection and blessings. Each color of the star carries a different meaning. For example, a green barn star represents fertility and strong crop growth. Blue or black barn stars symbolize protection for the farmer, their household, and their crops. And brown barn stars signify friendship.

Barn Stars and Hex Signs

Barn Stars

It’s important to understand that there are two parallel traditions associated with barn stars. Besides barn stars, there are hex signs. Both serve similar purposes but have distinct meanings. Hex signs also bring luck and protection, appearing not only on barns but also on marriage licenses and even grave markers.

The Misunderstood Hex Signs

Barn Stars barn quilt

In the 1920s, a New England artist named Wallace Nutting visited Pennsylvania Dutch Country and misinterpreted the original quilt squares or barn stars. He created what is now known as hex signs. These designs gained popularity and became a tourist attraction. However, they are not the same as the traditional barn stars. The appearance of barn stars and quilt squares on barns in Pennsylvania Dutch country serves as a reminder of their culture and customs.

Similar Symbols across Cultures

Barn Stars

Barn stars are not unique in their purpose to ward off evil and protect homes and families. Many cultures have their own ancient symbols with similar meanings. For example, the Om symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism is used for protection and balance. The Eye of Horus from ancient Egypt is believed to offer protection and healing. The Hamsa Hand from the Middle East and Mediterranean brings luck, good health, and wealth. Even turtles are revered symbols of longevity, wisdom, fertility, and grounding in Native American and African tribes.

Helm of Awe

The Helm of Awe or Helm of Terror. A modern Icelandic occult symbol that shares the name of the object in Norse mythology.

Additionally, Norse mythology has its own symbol called the Helm of Awe. It is said to shield warriors during combat and strike fear into the hearts of their enemies.

Embracing our Ancestors’ Wishes


Despite the geographical and cultural distances between nations, technological advancements have made it easier to recognize the similarities among various symbols. These symbols, including barn stars, all promise protection, wealth, and good health. They serve as a powerful reminder of our ancestors’ hopes for the prosperity of our families and communities.

The rich history of barn stars is filled with beautiful and meaningful designs. If you want to learn more about barn stars, watch the video below for ideas and instructions.