Hex signs, distelfinks, & unicorns -- Oh my!


The Irish have four-leaf clovers, the Chinese have tigers, the British have acorns -- every culture seems to have some way of expressing “good luck” -- it’s no different for those who live in Pennsylvania Dutch country, for they have hex signs.

Hex signs originated in the 1800’s as a form of folk art where the “fancy” farmers (those who were not of the Amish or Mennonite faiths, i.e. the “plain people”) would paint geometric shapes onto the sides of their barns. 

You could also find these symbols painted on doors, books, walls, and other household goods.

Hex signs were more than just shapes and symbols, they were a family's story or legend. Careful consideration went into choosing the proper hex sign for each homestead. It wasn’t until the 1940’s, when an eleventh generation Pennsylvania Dutchman named Jacob Zook, started silk screening the patterns onto round disks.

Because of Mister Zook’s efforts, hex signs are enjoyed all around the world, bringing good luck and heartfelt warm wishes to those who see the sign.

I bet there’s one somewhere in the area where you live.



Here’s what some of the most popular designs mean:


Horse Head:
Symbolizes protection for your farm animals and pets

Unicorn: A message of piety, virtue, peace and contentment

Pineapple:
This sign is meant to give a warm and cordial welcome to visitors

Wilkom Hearts:
A Pennsylvania Dutch way to welcome all visitors to your home

Distelfink:
 good luck and happiness -- if there’s two birds, double the luck

Mighty Oak:
 brings strength, good health, and longevity the the household

Marriage:
a symbol of love and happiness in marriage

Romance:
 expresses love and romance in a relationship

Irish: bestows the luck of the Irish

8-Pointed Abundance Star:
 offers abundance and goodwill to everyone

Double Bird Wilkom:
another symbol of love and happiness in a marriage

Bless This House:
 to bless the entire house and all those that occupy it

Daddy:
 ensures that you will experience good luck throughout the entire year

Bird of Paradise Wilkom:
a welcome to one and all

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