The Meaning of the Decorative Star on Homes

Decorative stars have an antique finish that makes them look old.
Decorative stars have an antique finish that makes them look old. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Decorative stars on the outside of homes can have different meanings based on religion or location. According to a recent news article, the use of barn stars in home decor is a touch of tradition. The simplicity of the design works well with many home types and may be custom-painted to show individuality. One thing is apparent: stars are no longer strictly for holiday decorating.

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Types

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 stars. Another star, although not as common, is the Moravian star, which has multiple points with decorative holes throughout for refracting light.

History

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 star evolved as a decorative feature used by both the Amish and Mennonites of Pennsylvania in the 1870's. Moravian stars were created in Germany as a symbol of Christmas.

Function

Decorative stars have different meanings to different people. As the use of stars for year-round decor has spread throughout the country, most people simply want them as an appealing embellishment to their homes. 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- pointed star. The individual points represent earth, air, fire, water and spirit.

Features

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 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

Barn stars are used for decoration on homes all across the United States, and the meaning or purpose of the star may vary geographically. In Pennsylvania, stars represent good fortune; 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.

References

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