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Q: Half moon circle on outhouse: ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Half moon circle on outhouse:
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: clicker5-ga
List Price: $6.00
Posted: 16 Jun 2003 10:01 PDT
Expires: 16 Jul 2003 10:01 PDT
Question ID: 217940
Why is there a 1/2 moon circle, cut into the wood, on outhouses?
Subject: Re: Half moon circle on outhouse:
Answered By: websearcher-ga on 16 Jun 2003 10:10 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi clicker5:

The best explanation for this I could find is at The Straight Dope:

Why do outhouse doors have half-moons on them? 
Quote: "The idea that outhouses always have moons on them has been
perpetuated largely by several generations of cartoonists (e.g., Al
Capp), probably none of whom ever saw one either...The woodshed was
often a lean-to attached to the schoolhouse, but the most accepted
arrangement was to place it between the schoolhouse and the privy,
with a fence separating the boys' entrance from the girls'. The
ancient designation of privy doors was to saw into them a sun (for
boys' toilet) and a moon (for girls' toilet)....As time passed by and
frontiers were pushed further westward, the gentlemen's restrooms fell
into disrepair and eventually were abandoned altogether.
Accommodations for ladies were better maintained and this is why the
moon symbol remains on many outhouse doors today. Its original
meaning, however, was lost to the general population sometime in the
mid 1800's."

Also, from The Outhouses of America Tour:

Why are there moons on Outhouse doors?
Quote: "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."

I suggest you read the complete articles for more interesting details.

I hope this helps!


Search Strategy (on Google):

"half moon" outhouses
clicker5-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Hi websearcher:
Thank you for taking an interest in my question.

Subject: Re: Half moon circle on outhouse:
From: pinkfreud-ga on 16 Jun 2003 10:27 PDT
Here's a discussion of the subject, from an outhouse-related FAQ (the
Internet really does have almost everything!)
Subject: Re: Half moon circle on outhouse:
From: journalist-ga on 16 Jun 2003 13:47 PDT
This puts me in mind of the book I'm currently reading.  Titled "The
Red Tent" it is a fascinating fictional account of the life of Dinah
of the Christian bible.  In their "time of the moon", the women would
enter the red tent for the duration of their menstrual cycles. 
Perhaps the moon symbol for women on the doors of outhouses actually
dates back to Sumeria.  Interesting question, Clicker5, and thanks for
asking it!

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