Posted by R. Berg on November 01, 2001

In Reply to: Half moon on an outhouse posted by ESC on November 01, 2001

: : : My wife and I were discussing, after watching the movie "Shrek" why there is always a half-moon on an outhouse. Any ideas?

: : Two ideas. It's a crescent moon. Moons (of any phase) may not have universally adorned real outhouses when outhouses were common. They're a convention of cartoons and other forms of fiction, much like all businesses being named Acme. I hope someone else can say how the moons got started.

: Put there for ventilation, no doubt. There have been books written about outhouses but there are none in my library. Could it be tied to signs painted on barns? Or maybe a crescent moon is just a logical shape. A full moon would allow someone to get a good look.

Yes, for ventilation, but why a moon at all? If you work with wood, about the first thing you notice is that without fancy tools it's much easier to cut straight lines than curves. A row of small square windows would ventilate as well.