Sure, restaurant signs are a common thing around the world. (Even the Romans had them.)
But the historical background of such signs is slightly different here in Switzerland. Being a Germanic culture, hospitality has always meant “no strings attached”. In other words, hosting someone was not done with a commercial intention.
Back in time, there were no street names or numbers for someone to navigate through a town. Instead, each house has its own name. So when it came to picking a name for a tavern or a drinking hole, the name of the house was often adopted. (For proof, look around a typical Swiss old town and you will see plenty of houses with names painted on them.)
But why the star as a sign for a restaurant?
There is an easy answer: The star was a symbol for the guild of brewers, and it was considered a lucky charm. Starting in the 13th century, when there was a batch of fresh beer at a tavern, the restaurant owner (who was also a brewer) would hang a sign outside to attract customers: A star, or “Stern” in German.
Still today, there are 230 Swiss restaurants carrying the name “Sternen”, putting it in fifth place after “Rössli”, “Bahnhof”, “Löwen” and “Kreuz”.
Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.
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