it be nice to celebrate the holiday season with something truly authentic
to Christmas, Hanukkah, and all that occurred during those holy times --
something exactly the same now as it was thousands of years ago.
Well, hang on to your stockings, folks, it might be right outside of your
Noah thanked God for them,
Christ defended them, and many of us don't even realize who they are, even
though we probably see them everyday. They are the symbols of love
and peace. They are the doves. But, which variety of dove is
the original embodiment of these ideals? The answer may surprise
you, since many people don't even recognize them as doves. A quick
look in the dictionary will provide a clue.
Any of various widely distributed birds of the family Columbidae, which
includes the pigeons*,
a small head and a characteristic cooing call. 2. A gentle, innocent
person. 3. A person who advocates peace, conciliation, or negotiation
in preference to confrontation or armed conflict.
(pij'en) [from Middle English < Middle French < Late Latin, meaning
chirping young dove.]
Johnson, on the staff of National Wildlife, describes them best in her
article entitled "Peace". Here are some excerpts.
"The image of
the dove as a symbol of peace is based on pigeons. Over centuries,
humanity has developed a relationship with these birds, exalting them in
symbolism and depending on them for messenger service, food and scientific
By far the most abundant
species worldwide is Columbia livia, most familiar in the form of
street pigeons. A Mediterranean native, it was first brought to North
America by European settlers in the 1700's.
The dove symbol developed
around 4500 B.C. [It] combined attributes of all
the region's pigeons.
[Pigeons] frequently keep
the same mate year after year, hence the connection with love. The
birds clustered in early temples, historians speculate, just as pigeons
roost on public buildings today. Thus the birds came to be linked with
fertility goddesses like Astarte, Venus and Aphrodite.
By biblical times,
the dove had become such a familiar image that it worked its way into Christianity.
According to legend, says folklorist Boria Sax of Pace University, 'Noah
sent out a raven that didn't come back and later a pigeon that returned
with the olive branch, a sign of peace.'"
So, in keeping with
the spirit of this holiday season, let's appreciate and enjoy those fine
feathered links to our cultural past. Let us bestow peace and goodwill
-- not only unto our fellow man -- but also unto the very symbols of it
© D.L. Roth , December 14, 1995
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