Wondrous Uses of Silver in Ceremonies and Festivals
Silver is an extraordinary precious metal that has been used in many ceremonies and festivals across religious and cultural groups. Not only is it symbolically valuable but it has a great many other benefits too.
Sterling silver gifts are a great way to stay environmentally friendly as they’re used in low in carbon emission technology, and are sustainable and ethical as they don’t go to waste (Lee, 2009). According to Eco925 (n.d.), their silver products are even made of 99% recycled silver scraps and materials, so silver can be constantly reused. The best part about recycled silver is that it never loses its quality or purity, it can simply be melted down and made into another stunning silver piece (Hodkinson, 2020).
It’s also a great utensil to feed your child with as it's anti-bacterial! Silver extracts have also been used to improve brain power and have many other medicinal properties too.
We’ll discuss silver used in a baby shower, Christening, crossing a baby’s palm, wedding, 25th wedding anniversary, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Diwali. Let’s dive straight into the various cultural festivals and ceremonies that silver is used in, starting off with the baby shower.
Silver gifts have often been regarded as a sign of wealth and investment especially as it was a currency many years ago. Inman (n.d.) explains that sterling silver gifts were presented during a baby shower as a symbol of investment in the baby’s future. In some cases, the gifts would be intended to be used once the child reaches adulthood, such as napkin rings, hallmarked silverware, and knives.
Even today many babies receive stunning sterling silver gifts such as rattles, baby bottles, bracelets, and diaper pins. According to the Times of India (2020) eating from a silver spoon or plate has the ability to boost your metabolism. It also has purifying properties as it fights off bacteria in water and food.
Not only is anti-bacterial but silver can signal whether you have come into contact with toxic metals. It reacts and leaves a certain colour on our skin when it comes into contact with any heavy metals. Silver rings can also alert us to toxic substances, for example if the skin near the ring turns blue it may mean that your sodium levels are rising. This will serve as a quick warning to cut all the salty foods (Taylor, 2021).
Whittingham (2021) states that sterling silver Christening gifts are traditionally given to a baby on their Christening by the godparents. This tradition dates back all the to the 4th Century where Christians were fearful of persecution by non-Christians. The parents of the baby would then ask each of their dearest friends and family to “sponsor” their child. A gift would then be given by the “sponsors”, who were known as patrinus meaning godfather.
Silver was given as a Christening gift during the Tudor times as silver was the currency then, therefore, the gift of silver was seen as a good investment on behalf of the child and symbolised independence. (Babame, n.d.).
According to Edinburgh Silver (n.d.), sterling silver gifts symbolised stability in the child’s adult life. A silver spoon was a popular gift and still is today! Obviously, this was unknown at the time, but silver has amazing antibacterial properties meaning it would be beneficial to feed your little one with. This aspect of silver is why a sterling silver baby bottle, cup, or other utensils are also a common gift too.
Silver utensils also have many other amazing health benefits for your baby such as boosting his/her immune system as we previously mentioned. In modern times, silver can be personalised by engraving the baby’s name on it which is always a cute touch.
Crossing a Baby’s Palm
In the UK the ceremonial crossing of a baby’s palm with silver is still quite a popular one. Traditionally, a baby was given a silver coin to hold to wish them good health and fortune in their future. It was known as “silvering the baby” (The Royal Mint, n.d.).
The Royal Mint (n.d.) goes on to explain that once the coin is placed in the baby’s hand if he/she threw it down or let it go then it was said that the baby will become a frivolous spender whereas if he/she held on to it then the baby will be economical and financially stable in the future. Even today it is not uncommon for families and friends to gather and eagerly anticipate what the baby will do.
Levina (2016) states that in Northern England it was not uncommon for strangers on the street to even gift a tiny baby with a silver coin while the mother would push the baby in his/her pram, however, today it is less common to do so.
We’ve all heard the old saying; ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’, however, many haven’t heard the last line of the poem; ‘and a silver sixpence in her shoe’. Salem Cross Inn (n.d.) explains that typically the father of the bride would place a silver sixpence coin in her left shoe. So, she would literally carry fortune into her marriage.
It began in the 17th century and was a gift or dowry given to the groom from the bride’s father. The silver six pence was also associated with warding off any evil spirits that may be active during the wedding.
The silver coin was also thought to bring the happily married couple further wealth, fortune, and luck. It is mainly carried out in Irish Catholic weddings (Morgan, n.d.). So today that has turned into family and friends sending silver wedding gifts to the bride and groom.
25th Wedding Anniversary
It is common to gift the married couple a silver gift on their 25th wedding anniversary. Hersey & Son (2016) state that historians have tracked this practice back to the Germanic region where a husband would gift his wife a silver wreath to celebrate their anniversary.
It was then believed that silver wedding gifts symbolised the harmony that a married couple required to sustain their marriage for 25 years. Today, many silver wedding gifts such as mirrors, bracelets, charms and hallmarked silverware are offered as gifts (Leigh, 2017).
Not only does silver make for a stunning, sentimental wedidng gift but this precious metal has a great many benefits when worn. According to Owens (2013), even in 400BC, Hippocrates described its antimicrobial properties. Today, we now know that silver makes a bacterial cell’s membrane permeable which means that the bacteria is less resistant to medications. So, you can be certain that the silver jewlery can enhance the happy couples healthy recovery.
The actual colour; silver, represents the star that led the three wise men to baby Jesus (Marcopoulos, 2017), however, sterling silver is traditionally baked in a Christmas pie. The Royal Mint (n.d.) explains that it's known as a Christmas sixpence and each member of the household would stir the coin in the mixture before it is set to bake.
It’s believed that whoever gets the slice of pudding with the coin will have great fortune and luck in the upcoming year. Nowadays, many silver coins are baked in the pie to spread luck all around (Walsh, n.d.), so the entire dinner table will carry luck into the new year instead one family member.
Although silver the colour is not of particular significance or symbolism in the Jewish faith, many Menorahs and Hanukkahs are made of sterling silver. A silver Menorah for lighting your candles is particularly considered as an enhancement of your Mitzvah (Israel-Catalog, 2010).
According to History (2020), Hanukkah is a traditional Jewish celebration that reaffirms the faith and beliefs embedded within Judaism as well as commemorates the rededication to God and the Second Temple of Jerusalem. One would light the candles on each day of the festival.
A sterling silver Hanukkah is absolutely stunning and such a piece is perfect for the celebration.
During Diwali it is a recognised tradition to give or exchange gifts. On the first day of festival; Dhanteras, which is when silver or golden utensils are bought to bring the family wealth (Panchal, 2020).
On Dhanteras, Goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth) is worshipped as Hindu’s believe that she will bring their home good fortune and luck (The Indian Express, 2017). It is also believed that these precious metals help attract wealth and prosperity into the home.
Another fantastic benefit to wearing silver is that it has been known to promote internal heat regulation which boosts energy levels and enhances one’s mood. Silver also helps keep our blood vessels elastic and studies have found that it can even improve arthritic symptoms that are experienced in the hands (Taylor, 2021).
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and is a great celebration in the Islamic religion. It is all about the gathering of friends and family to show appreciation and gratitude towards God (Simpson, 2019). Gift giving is a great aspect of this festival including the money, sweets and clothing given to children.
Silver is a popular gift too! Presents such as silver bands, bracelets, necklaces and other jewellery are a great way to celebrate this day. Sterling silver decorations or utensils are perfect for Eid when you have the entire family over.
It is clear that silver is rich in symbolism throughout many religions and cultures across the world and across generations of time. Silver is not only used in traditions, ceremonies and festivals but has a great many beneficial properties such as its anti-bacterial properties, its sustainability and not mention its stunning, shiny appearance.
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