It may seem as if every outhouse on the planet sports its own crescent moon, and what is true today must have been true always. That’s not quite accurate when it comes to the decorative features of outhouse doors, and it is time to set the record straight. There is a reason why modern outhouses have a crescent moon on the door, but it does not mean they were always there. To understand why and how it happened that way, separating the moon and the doors might be helpful.
A Look at the Moon
History is always a helpful place to look for an understanding of modern symbols, and the moon has had many an influence on various cultures around the world. After all, it is a wonderful object that graces the night sky everywhere. For those curious about why it was eventually associated with an outhouse, a look at English culture is helpful. The term mooning first appears in eighteenth-century England, and it refers to dropping garments to waggle the naked backside at others. Association with the posterior became popular, and it eventually traveled across the sea to the United States.
There is little speculation that there have been outhouses available for use over the centuries, but door carvings of any nature are actually the point of discussion here. While plenty of outhouses over time have had holes and slots carved into them, it had several uses. In outhouses that were actually used, the slot was to let air out as a ventilation method, to let light in because there was no electricity, and it also served as a handle because they were not a normal feature. All of these are good reasons to carve up the door, but the moon was not necessarily the shape used. Often it was a diamond or a simple slot.
Combining Doors and Moons
Many people have found over the last few decades that retro is popular, and retrofitting is one method of recreating a scene from the past. In the middle of the last century, it became very popular to draw outhouses with a crescent moon even when they were not actually used on the original structures. Many historical parks or venues that had them on display picked up this popular notion, and that is generally why people believe it has always been used.
The original meaning of mooning is the same as it is today, and a full moon is what has always been shot. It might make most people wonder why a crescent is apparent on an outhouse instead of a full moon. The reason can be summed up in the lack of privacy a full moon would give the structure as opposed to a crescent, and there is also the notion that a crescent is a more recognizable symbol.
What is true today is not always what was true in history, and the outhouse door with a crescent moon is just one good example. Learning the facts of history can be a fun way to see how modern life has come about as changes work their way through societies.