A symbol can be an object, sound, picture,
a written word, or any thing that stands for another.
The word has passed through a number of languages,
but originally comes from the Greek, ???????? (sýmbolon),
from the root words ???- (syn-), meaning ‘together’,
and ???? (bol?), ‘a throw’, meaning of ‘to throw together’,
literally a ‘co-incidence’ or ‘sign’.
For example, the caduceus, a staff entwined by two serpents and
surmounted by wings, is a widely-recognised symbol of commerce; in North America,
it is also the symbol for medicine. Family symbols are those that represent a particular family unit
and hold special meaning for its members. New family symbols can emerge over time; but typically,
family symbols are those that appear on heraldic coats of arms or family crests and shields.
Family Symbols in History and What They Signify Today
Family symbols were used widely throughout history, particularly by those of great wealth and high status.
The famous War of the Roses involved two families competing for the throne of England. As its title suggests,
the families were referred to by symbols: the red rose of Lancaster and the white rose of York.
Other nobility and kings used family seals, crest rings and coats of arms as their family symbols.
Today, these are the symbols that most commonly come to mind when we think of family symbols.
Family symbols are not just symbols of the modern family, but of the bonds between that family and all
those who came before. They represent nuclear families, extended families, clans and all forebearers of them.
Celebrate Family Heritage Through Family Symbols
A family symbol can be as simple as a rose or a lion, or as complex as a coat of arms.
What is important about such symbols is what they represent. Each symbol holds its own subjective meaning,
which is imbued by the family to which it belongs. In heraldry, strict sets of rules govern the creation of
heraldic family symbols, ensuring that each is unique in its own way. Family crests, seals and coats of arms
are all heraldic symbols that carry with them a history and a particular significance for each member of a family unit.
Family symbols can hold different meanings to families over time, but, most importantly, they maintain the connection
between ancestors over time. Celebrate your family history, heritage and symbols by displaying them
proudly on plaques, family crest seals, rings and elaborate coats of arms.