A clarification that often bears repeating: many/most Amish consider themselves Pennsylvania Dutch, but not all Pennsylvania Dutch are Amish. Pennsylvania Dutch is a broad “umbrella term” which can include Lutheran, Moravians, Catholics, Anabaptists and other religions represented by the broad migration of Germans to Pennsylvania in the 1700s and 1800s. The term Dutch comes from the misappropriation of the term deutsch, meaning German. A college professor who studies the Pennsylvania Dutch once told me the correct term should actually be “Pennsylvania German,” a term which has come into wider use. All of this brings me to “hex signs”, colorful symbols painted on period barns found in parts of Pennsylvania. When I was younger and first studying the Amish, hex signs were sometimes associated with them. But the Amish association with hex signs historically is likely minimal. Hex signs do, however, decorate barns throughout Pennsylvania Dutch country, their meanings most often lost to time. Click here to read an interesting Washington Post piece about hex signs in Pennsylvania.
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