The history of the hex originated from the Pennsylvania Dutch settlers from the 17th and 18th centuries. At that time the cost of paint inhibited the painting of barns and outbuildings. By the 1830s the cost of paint decreased and farmers began painting their barns the way the decorated their homes, using imagery reminiscent of quilts and wall stencils of that time period.
There are a few different perceptions of the hex signs’ purpose. Some believe they were drawn for pure aesthetics keeping in mind the beauty of symmetry while others understood the hex to be powerful symbolism for protection and abundance on the farm. With different understanding of their purpose come different suggestions of how they came to be called hex signs. Some believe that hex came from a mispronunciation of the German word for six, sechs, as many of the hexes adorned six pointed stars. The stars connected the farmers to astrology as they based their spring and summer planting on the cycles of the moon and positions of the stars. Others believe that hex originated from the German word for witch, Hexe, as the symbols were often thought of as spells to ward of evil and hardships on the farm.
The modern Hex of today sort of embodies both schools of thought. People are certainly drawn to the beauty of design and color. The symbolism generates warmth with universal hopes like smooth sailing in life or, happiness, joy and love. Beyond the visual and spiritual beauty is a reconnection to our American heritage through their language in symbolism and beauty in color.