Thursday, August 16, 2007

Going Dutch

Dutch Hex Symbols!
If you ever visited Pennsylvania Dutch country, or if you have a grandma that likes trivets, these symbols look familiar to you.

Friendship: This very striking design depicts two Distelfink birds warmly embracing to show their love and friendship. Their "one" heart is laced with love for each other; the tulip adds faith this love will be everlasting. An endless ring of rain drops showers them with life's bounty. Overall, this popular symbol proclaims love and friendship.

Mighty Oak Hex: Four large oak leaves in bright, bold colors radiate from the center of this design. The oak tree symbolizes strength, health in body and mind, and endurance or long life. Four oak leaf colors are used to represent the four seasons of life -- spring, summer, fall and winter. Smooth sailing throughout life is shown by the scalloped border.

Petal Rosette: Aptly named, this very familiar geometric design shows a large rosette having twelve colorful petals. The rosette is a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch good luck symbol. Here, the twelve petals, one for each month of the year, ensure good fortune all year. The leaf clusters near the outer ring symbolize family groupings. Placing the leaf clusters in a continuous ring highlights the importance family unity and support play in a joyous, happy life. The rich earth tone colors create a very striking design. Joy and prosperity are the key themes of this design.

(Both images and text from Zook's Family Crafts)

In the 1700's, Pennsylvania was settled by German peasant farmers who wanted to take advantage of William Penn's religious freedoms. These settlers were not limited to the Amish, though that is what the area is presently known for. Mennonites, Lutherans and plethora of reformed groups also called that area home.
The Hex Symbols represented old legends and stories in German culture. Often, a family would have a designated symbol, choosing their own color, design and meaning.

Good Luck Hex Charm, $25

Dutch Hex Rings

"Some of the more popular symbols included: hearts for love, birds (called distelfinks) for luck and happiness, tulips for faith, and stars for good luck. The colors used for painting were also carefully chosen because of their added meaning. Blue conveyed protection, white purity, green abundance and red strong emotion. The hex symbols were individually hand painted for many years. This approach, naturally very time consuming, limited hex sign use and enjoyment even in the Dutch Country."

Dutch Hex Bracelet, $24

Interestingly, most scholars contend that these never had an folk magic or superstitious connections and were instead used in a purely innocent way (much like a four leaf clover=good luck), like talisman. These scholars maintain that the term Hex, normally associated with witchcraft, is actually a derivation of the Greek word for six, or six-sided. Of course, some contrarians believe that these indeed have roots in the occult but there is little evidence to suggest as such.

Little Ghost Designs Distelfink Necklace, $39

Dutch Hex Charms, $13.95
(From l to r: Love and Happy Relationship charm, Inner Strength Charm, Good Fortune Charm, Circle of Life Charm)

Speaking of Dutch country, if you've never had Shoo-Fly Pie, you are missing out. Seriously. Your life is unfulfilled.

Credit to PA Dutch, and, of course, to the lovely Wikipedia!


WendyB said...

Wow, I haven't seen those in forever!

In Yr Fshn said...

Ha! Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

WendyB said...

Oh, it's nice to see them again. I want some pie!