Local Magic

I saw a lot of these stars on the front of the old houses in West Virginia when I was there in October, enough to know they’ve got some local significance. I asked a young cashier at a CVS drugstore about them and she told me right away they were barn stars. Seeing my puzzled look (I was in town so only saw them on houses, not barns) she added, “They’re for good luck”. Then almost as an afterthought she said, “They’re primitive decor, Americana.” Searching them online I found they became popular in certain parts of the U.S. and Canada in the early nineteenth century and have their talismanic roots in paganism along with the hex signs found in the countryside there, most notably the Pennsylvania Dutch region. But in recent decades most locals appear to have dismissed them as merely decorative. The Amish don’t use them. Hex signs especially are described to outsiders as being just for looks, or “chust for nice” as they say.

~Reviewer Rob

Barn Star, Huntington, West Virginia.
Barn Star, Huntington, West Virginia.

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