Fleur-de-lis and the Meaning of Symbols

Fleur-de-lis and the Meaning of Symbols

Symbols often take the form of words, visual images, or gestures that are used to convey ideas and beliefs. They’re everywhere.  Stop signs.  Emojis on our iPhones.  Flags of different nations. Greek mythology.  Even the “$” sign is a symbol for money.  Being an English major in college and studying literature, symbolism was everywhere — in poetry from Edgar Allen Poe, in plays by Shakespeare, and novels by Emily Bronte.  I like determining what symbols mean.

Since I was in high school, friends called me a francophile, a ‘person obsessed with everything French, especially wine, Champagne, art, food and the French language.’  So, it was only natural that I always liked the fleur-de-lis symbol.  The fleur-de-lis is a stylized lily (in French, fleur means “flower”, and lis means “lily”) that is used as a decorative design or symbol. A graphic designer even created my logo around it.  If you look closely, you’ll see an “A” for Alyssa and a “B” for Burns, in the shape of a fleur-de-lis.

Most often seen as the symbol of French royalty, the fleur-de-lis can also represent power and strength in foreign military units, and perfection, light and life in Catholicism. While the fleur-de-lis was sporadically used in Babylonian, Egyptian and Roman architecture, the symbol was first used prominently in the 12th century by French monarch Louis VI or Louis VII. Around this time, a legend had developed involving fourth-century Frankish monarch Clovis I, who was allegedly anointed with the oil of a fleur de lis. Thus, the fleur de lis represented the divine authority given to French rulers.*  To me, it meant anything French, so being a francophile, I love that my logo incorporates a fleur-de-lis in its design.

What are some of your favorite symbols and why?  I’d like to hear your ideas around this.

*Sources: fleurdelis.comfleurdorleans.comwwltv.comen.wikipedia.org