The Hex Signs
When Renee and I first saw Sunnyslope Farm, we noticed all the bright and colorful round signs nailed to various buildings. We recognized them as Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs and that they were generally used to bring good luck, but that was about all we knew about them.
I thought it would be fun to photograph the various signs around the property and find out more about them. I hope that you enjoy this information.
Let’s start at the house. The picture above shows the sign that is over the front door. It is a house blessing sign that has several common Pennsylvania hex sign symbols. The two birds at the bottom are called a “double distlefink“. Distlefinks are good luck birds and having two give a double measure of good fortune! At the top of the sign are two “trinity tulips” which symbolize both the Trinity and faith, hope and charity. I am not sure if the other flowers have any specific meaning. The heart at the very top represents love or as one source on hex signs has said: “the heart of God, the source of all love and hope for a future life.”
By the way, the Pennsylvania Dutch, were not from Holland, but in fact were of Germanic origin. The term “Dutch” came from the fact that the german settlers in this region referred to themselves as being “Deutsch” or German. They came to the Pennsylvania area
prior to 1800 from Germany, Switzerland, and the “low countries” (mainly the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg).
One of the most decorated buildings on the property is what we call the “chicken house”. It is really more of a chicken hotel than a house! There is enough room there for 30 or more chickens PLUS 3 small stalls for goats or lambs to be born. Here is the front of the chicken house:
The mystery of why there are 4 signs on this building and not that many on any other structure may be related to the fact that the old chicken house had burned down a few years back. I suspect that the previous owners wanted to protect the new chicken house with a lot of “good mojo“! Here is a closer look at each sign. Starting from the left, the first sign has what appear to be 5 maple leaves on it.
Maple leaves symbolize contentment. Beside the door, there is another “Double Distlefink” sign. The two birds on this sign are another traditional rendering of the distlefink different from the one seen earlier on the front door. There is also has a heart representing love and what appears to be an artichoke. I have no idea what that represents. The wavy boarder along the edge symbolize “smooth sailing”. Both of these signs have the signature of Jacob Zook on them. He was a well known designer of Hex signs.
Here is the sign on the chicken house door. On it is a 12 pointed rosette, which stands for good luck in each month of the year.
This is a pretty self-explanatory sign with a single distlefink and a large and a small heart. Good luck and lots of love
Below is a sign on the well house. It has an eight-pointed star which are often blue and symbolize goodwill. It also has sheaves of wheat which represent abundance which make a lot of sense for a well. I too hope that the well will produce abundantly!
And here is another eight-pointed star for goodwill (actually two stars and a eight-petaled rosette). This sign is over the door on the potting or tool shed in the garden. Besides the stars and rosette, it also has the “smooth sailing” waves. Notice the raindrops, which could mean water, crop abundance and fertility.
This sign is found both on the stable and on the garage. This hex sign has a green five-pointed star and pictures of various animals. Another meaning of stars is protection, so I am guessing that this sign is for protection of the animals. The orange is for abundance and the green is for fertility.
The two signs on the garage are pretty faded. The one on the left appears to be a 12-point rosette and the one one the right is the animal protection star just like the one on the stable.
Here is the sign on the hay shed. It has lots of stars for prosperity and the 12-petalled rosette for good luck every month of the year.
Here are two signs that I found in the green house which have not been installed yet. The sign on the left has the blue 8-pointed star of prosperity as well as wheat sheaves and tulips. This is one of the most common hex signs. The wheat, as mentioned earlier is for abundance and the tulips represent “faith and trust in man”. The sign on the right also has some symbols I have not yet mentioned. The four oak leaves represent strength while the four colors symbolize the seasons of life or the seasons of the year. The blue wavy boarder, as seen before is for smooth sailing.
So there you have it. These are the hex signs we have found on the farm. I hope they continue to bring their good luck!
Sometime soon, I will show some of the other signs at Sunnyslope, which are not Pennsylvania Dutch. I think that you will find them fun (and funny) as well.