Thursday, December 4

Go Dutch!

Colorful designs, motifs and symbols reflective of traditional folk art are abundant as of late, on everything ranging from paper goods to home décor, fashion and beyond. Especially popular, are motifs reminiscent of “Pennsylvania Dutch” folk art, such as rosettes, tulips, hearts, doves and goldfinches.

In the 18th century, decorating everyday items with colorful designs was a common practice for the Pennsylvania Dutch. Everything from furniture, to clocks, to birth certificates were decorated with symbols that settlers had first been acquainted with in Europe. Over time, these motifs came to represent Pennsylvania Dutch ideology. They were often used as visual prayers that would protect the home and farm, bring good fortune, abundance and prosperity, or invite guests to be welcome.

Below, are some recurring motifs that I’ve been seeing everywhere this season. For fun, I’ve written a brief description of the Pennsylvania Dutch symbolism for each. So, that the next time you need to buy a house warming gift, order wedding favors, or decorate your home…you’ll be inspired to go Dutch!

• The goldfinch is the good luck bird of the early Pennsylvania Dutch. When shown alone it represents good luck and happiness. When two birds are shown together they symbolize a double measure of good fortune.

• The rosette offers good luck as well.

• Tulips represent faith and trust and when shown in a set of three, represent faith, hope, and charity.

• A heart ensures love and romance.

• A dove symbolizes peace and contentment.

• The eight-pointed star offers abundance.

• Scalloped borders represent smooth sailing.

• The Tree of Life symbolizes a happy life and joyful memories for all.

{Images from left to right: Fleet Red Organic Teatowel from Mibo; Cherry Picking screenprint by Ruth Green; Chicken Stock screenprint on wood panel also from Mibo; Wild Pods Mug by Fiona Howard; Dutch Woodcut Floral Gift Wrap from Papersource; New Wave Acapulco Dinner Plate from Villeroy & Boch; Ceylon Personalized stationery by Checkerboard; Tulip Wallpaper by ISAK; Cockerell two color vinylprint by Sarah Young; 100% Recycled Giftwrap from Rosehip Cards}

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