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Symbolism in Our Culture: Historical Background on Four Popular Objects

The American Flag

Many of us can see a flag and know that it represents a particular state, country, special event, and so on. The colors and designs of each flag symbolize not only a culture of essay writer services, but also some of the specific historical elements of that culture. For example, the flag of the United States is designed with fifty white stars (representing each state in the Union) against a navy blue background in the canton, and an alternating pattern of seven red and six white stripes. George Washington explained the symbolism of this design: "We take the stars from heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing liberty." For those of us who are not familiar with the flag's history, we might just consider the flag a symbol of our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Heart Shape

The exact history of this shape relating to love is still vague, but research shows that the shape of the heart dates back to the Cro-Magnon era where it was etched on cave walls; however, no research exists explaining the meaning of the shape to these early essay writers. Speculation also exists in the link between the heart-shaped seed pod of the silphium plant and the symbolism of love. In earlier cultures, people around the Mediterranean used the plant for birth control and pregnancy abortion, and silphium could only be grown in the colony of Cyrene (now Libya). It was so important to their culture that the image of the plant was on their coins. The Middle Ages sparked the modern day meaning of the heart by first relating it to the love of Jesus Christ, but because the symbol became popularized in art and literature, it evolved to represent the general emotion of love.

The Four-Leaf Clover

The four-leaf clover is a special find. According to statistics, three-leaf clovers (shamrocks) are the dominant growth while the four-leafs occur once in every ten thousand shamrocks. The value of this small plant was reportedly recognized by Eve from the Bible, the ancient Druids, and the Irish. Depending on the Irish legend cheap essay writer consult, each of the four leaves could represent either faith, hope, love, and luck. In another legend, St. Patrick was said to have taught Christianity in Ireland using a shamrock, teaching that each of the leaves represents an element of the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit); the extra leaf on a four-leaf clover included God's Grace. Because of these connotations, the four-leaf clover has become a universal symbol for luck.

The Engagement and Wedding Ring

Wedding rings have symbolized commitment since Ancient Egyptian times. Often made of leather or woven grass, or even bone or ivory, in this culture, the wedding ring represented an "immortal union." In addition, both the Egyptians and Romans believed that we have the vena amoris or "vein of love" in our fourth finger and that is why the rings were worn on them. Our fourth finger does have this circulatory path, but so do all our other fingers and toes. Because western cultures popularized this myth, wearing the band on the fourth finger became accepted practice. Evolving over many years, wedding rings became fashioned out of metals and the diamond was an added bonus. Some myths say that were tipped with diamonds, and because he was the god of love, diamonds became a status ornament on this jewelry. Some historians say that Archduke Maximilian from the first official cheap essay writing service gave ring to Mary of Burgundy as a symbol of their engagement and, from this point, both ring styles became increasingly more elaborate.

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