Decorative stars on the outside of homes can have different meanings based on religion, location and/or color symbolism. The use of barn stars in home décor is a touch of tradition. The simplicity of the design works well with many home types and may be custom-painted to show individuality as well as good luck. One thing is apparent: stars are no longer strictly for holiday decorating.
Types of Barn Stars
The most common decorative star found on the outside of homes is the five-pointed barn star. Take a peek at just about any decorating catalog and you will find at least one of these popular primitive stars. Another star, although not as common, is the Moravian star, which has multiple points with decorative holes throughout for refracting light. Painted stars may incorporate white for purity, brown for friendship and green for hope and fertility.
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History of American Stars
The barn star traces back to the German farming communities of the 1700's. These stars were originally placed to cover the ends of the beams in barn construction. The symbolism evolved over time and the Pennsylvania Dutch painted hex signs and barn stars that featured six to 12 points on their barns and buildings to ward off evil and bring good luck.
The star was also used by both the Amish and Mennonites of Pennsylvania in the 1870's. Moravian stars were created in Germany as a symbol of Christmas.
Meaning of the Stars
Decorative stars have different meanings to different people. As the use of stars for year-round décor has spread throughout the country, most people simply want them as an appealing embellishment to their home decor. Collectors of antiques and americana may also display at least one star as a symbol of good luck.
The Moravian star, however, has religious meaning, indicating the beginning of Advent. You are less likely to find the Moravian star hanging as decoration, though there are still Moravian communities today with stars displayed on their porch year-round.
Pagans celebrating winter solstice will also display a five-point star. The individual points represent earth, air, fire, water and spirit.
Features of Metal Barn Stars
The barn star is often made from metal -- most commonly copper or tin -- and can be painted according to the whim of the homeowner. Use of these metal stars is not relegated to the front of the home. Stars are used as decoration in children's rooms, over fireplaces or on interior walls.
Moravian stars are multifaceted, with star-shaped cutouts over all of the points, and can have a light inside or be open for the sunlight to shine through. Once very fragile, today's Moravian stars are frequently made from tin.
Geography and Barn Stars
Barn stars are used for decoration on homes all across the United States, and the meaning or purpose of the star may vary geographically. Pennsylvania stars on a house mean good fortune; while in Texas they symbolize state pride. No matter where you live, the chances are good that you will see a star gracing someone's home.