You may be wondering about my beautiful logo at the top of the page. It’s a hex sign.
What’s a hex sign? It’s a traditional form of decorative art of the Pennsylvania Dutch (who aren’t Dutch at all, but German immigrants) and it’s got a mysterious past. In its most innocent form, a hex sign is “just something nice” to decorate barns, homes, furniture, or anything, really. Some people claim that the hexes have mystical properties (and in fact, one translation of the Pennsylvania Dutch term for “hex sign” is “witch’s foot”). People used to write prayers or wishes underneath the hex. Each of the traditional shapes and patterns used in the hexes has a symbolic meaning. And the authentic hexes are primarily found in the region where I live here in Pennsylvania.
When I was growing up, hex signs were something that were kind of “tacky” and represented the “backwards” ways of the “Dutchies,” who are admittedly a bit hardheaded and suspicious of anything new. My mother is Pennsylvania Dutch…which means I’ve got quite a bit in me too. (Yes, my head is hard.) But like many things in life, the older you get, the more you appreciate the things that seemed silly when you were growing up. I now appreciate knowing, for instance, that witches were always safe in Pennsylvania. (Legend has it that William Penn himself declared that an accused witch had every right to ride a broomstick, as there was no law against it.) And I appreciate knowing that even though most Pennsylvania Dutch are strong Christians, they weren’t afraid to hold on to their traditional folk beliefs.
My logo’s hex was a collaboration between a traditional “hex-meister” named Eric Claypoole (www.claypoolehexsigns.com), myself, and our fantastic art director Andy Carpenter. It symbolizes abundance, fertility, success, and many other things…all of them positive and good.
Every region of every country in the world has stories to tell about its past and traditions that we can learn from. I am happy to continue the long and beautiful tradition of the hex.