Peace is a goal to which we strive, a state of existence that we want to live in, a way of acting and a feeling of respect. When we work to live peacefully with others it shows the concern and love we express for them. In some cultures, people greet one another by using the word “peace” in their greetings, “peace be to you.” Native Americans when they met with people from another tribe, or when “foreigners” came to them respectfully, the “peace pipe” was shared among those assembled. From early times, cultures have recognized symbols for peace.
On this page is a number of those symbols. Read the descriptions that follow and match the symbol to the description provided. Try your hand at recreating a symbol. Or making one that fits your own idea of peace.
- This bird is recognized as a symbol of peace in many cultures. In Greek mythology the bird was seen as a symbol of love and renewal. In a number of European cultures it was thought that if this bird flew over the home when someone was dying the soul of the person would rest in peace. However, the famous Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso linked this bird to peace when he created a famous painting of it for the World Peace Congress in 1949.
- It is believed that this symbol represents the connection between harmony, heaven, and earth. Often the symbol is printed in green.
- While many people bring this plant out at Christmas time, its origins go back to Scandinavian mythology when the goddess Freya’s son was killed by an arrow made by this plant. After that event she declared that the plant was to be seen as a symbol of peace and should be hung in doorways as a sign of peace and friendship.
- The branch from this tree is often associated with ancient Greece and the Olympic Games. Winners of a game were given a crown made from this branch. The symbolism most probably came from the idea that it took a long period of time before the tree from which this branch came could produce its fruit. Therefore the fruit could only be cultivated during a long period of peace. The branch is also used as a symbol of the United Nations.
- This symbol, Egyptian in origin, is most closely linked to the 1960s in the United States. It was adopted as a symbol of the “Hippie Movement.” In Egypt, people were buried with this symbol as it represented life and immortality.
- This white bird is most closely associated with Japan. In feudal times this bird was thought of as a sign of friendship and prosperity. After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the bird took on an even greater relationship to peace.
- More than likely the use of this hand sign began in Europe during World War II. It signified a sign for victory. It was adopted by the peace movements of the 1960s and 1970s and remains a symbol for peace today.