Why There Is A Moon On The Outhouse Door

Here at The Cottage Chronicles it could be is usually said that we are full of…um…well…to put it nicely, “crap” which of course explains our interest and recurring theme about cottage plumbing and of course the proverbial outhouse. I have written about the pleasures, miracles and delights of outhouses before, so no need to dig another hole yet, however I came across an interesting little tidbit of outhouse trivia that I cannot keep from my readers, especially those of you who look at outhouses with affection.

Why Is There A Moon On The Outhouse Door

The crescent moon in the outhouse door….do you know why it’s there? According to one of my favorite sites, Ode To An Outhouse there are a couple of possible explanations, as follows:

“The answer lies in the lighting inside because outhouses were around before electricity. The best way to let light in was to put in a window. For privacy reasons, most outhouses were designed with the window above the line of sight.
"rustic outhouse pic"
Many early outhouses contained a decorative “moon cutout” covered by glass. This allowed just enough light in to take care of business! It also allowed the real moon to shine through during the night. Bringing a lit lantern into some outhouses could have caused quite a bang so the moon won out!

In reality, most people had a covered pot under the bed to go in during the night. Get’s mighty cold at night going outside and the varmints are something else!”

Here is another explanation…

“Probably the most recognizable symbol associated symbol with the traditional outhouse building is the familiar crescent moon carved into the privy door. Actually, the symbol is an ancient one, and was a sign for womanhood in colonial days and on the frontier.

It’s male counterpart, Sol, was either a star or a sun burst design also on the door. Since most male outhouses fell into disrepair rather quickly they seldom survived; while the female ones were better maintained, and were eventually used by both sexes.

Although you can find outhouses still standing with the crescent moon, the original meaning for gender identification was lost by the later nineteenth century in most areas of the country.”

Now dear reader…this is the kind of stuff that is good to know, “stuff” like this is important to have tucked away in the back of your mind to be pulled out on special occasions like around the campfire at the campground, or perhaps when you are coming up short of conversation topics with someone on the transit bus.

Just look up thoughtfully at the sky, nudge your travelling companion, smile and say, “I think there will be a crescent moon tonight.” then, after a pause for them to nod and agree, you can add, “Speaking of the crescent moon, do you know why they cut a crescent moon into outhouse doors?” That will get the ball rolling, from then on the conversation will be all yours…..

If you want to learn more about outhouses and these days, who doesn’t, drop over to Ode To An Outhouse

The Online Magazine About Cottages, Camps, Outdoors

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