Rumours are spreading that a metal star on a house is part of a secret swingers code. Is there any truth to the theory? What does a metal star on a house mean?

What does a metal star on a house mean?

“Barnstar Brewing Company” by Scottb211 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A barnstar – also called a barn star, primitive star or Pennsylvania star – usually has five or six points. They sometimes come in a circular, “wagon wheel” style. 

Barns up and down the US feature these stars. But what do they mean?

Barnstars serve no structural purpose. Rather, they are decorative and, perhaps, objects of superstition. These decorations are particularly common in Pennsylvania, and particularly in German-American farming communities.

Website Pioneer Thinking refers to metal stars on houses as “Amish Barn Stars”.

Allegedly quoted in the Boston Globe in 2006, one woman said the stars “started as Chinese good luck stars and were later adopted by the Amish with the same meaning”.

A brief history of barnstars

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

Centuries ago, groups of religious refugees from Germany migrated towards Pennsylvania. Among those refugees were Amish and Mennonites – distinctively plain-dressed demographics – along with Lutherans.

Over time, these groups were homogenised in popular thought, and simply known as the “Pennsylvania Dutch”.

Some of the settlers painted colourful geometric designs on their barns. They ascribed meanings to the various symbols. However, over time, they whittled their symbols down to one: a star.

According to Pioneer Thinking, in Pennsylvania the Amish barnstars became very popular after the American Civil War. While some were purely aesthetic, or superstitious, others represented the builder of the barn. They were a point of pride and identity, too.

Do barnstars have anything to do with a secret swingers code?

Besides adding “a touch of Americana” to one’s porch, barnstars have come to be associated with something else. Or have they?

The rumour that metal stars are somehow part of a swingers code may just be that – a rumour. Much has been written about the ways in which members of the swinging community signal to each other. 

In 2017, the Telegraph reported plummeting sales of pampas grass. Why? After the public learned of its association with the practice of swinging, they didn’t want it anymore.

According to the New York Post, other swingers choose to wear a black ring on their right hand. Pineapple knockers may also be signals to swingers.

“Knocker – Pineapple” by ChodHound is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Myth or fact: does a metal star mean there are swingers inside?

It’s a myth – probably. 

The earliest evidence of an association between metal barnstars, or Amish stars, and the swinging community, is a thread on community fishing website Stripers Online. The forum thread dates back to 2007.

A Senior Member of the community said: “What the heck, I’m seeing them all over the place!”

They continued: “My wife and I decide to start a rumor – the star means you are a swinger…!”

The thread may not have received a huge amount of attention. However, while one commenter praised the rumour, another said  that, “while at house hunting I’ve noticed them too”.

Could this be the rumour’s origin?

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