Many Many Happy Years to You

A symbol of good luck -- well, it used to be

This birthday card was apparently hand-delivered to our lucky birthday boy or girl on “Sep the 6 1910” by one Miss Rosa Cochran. It’s embossed and made of relatively thin card stock. It has apparently had something spilled on it at some point; notice the discoloration at the top, which is more easily noticed on the back side.

The most interesting thing about this card, however, is the use of the swastika in each of the four corners. For over 4,000 years, the swastika had been used as a symbol of good luck; it seems to have originated with the Indus Valley Civilization in modern India and is still used among Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains. It was used by ancient Greeks and Chinese emporers. It was very widely used among Western countries in the early 20th century for this purpose, which explains its use here.

Unfortunately, some crackpots came along and decided that the Proto-Indo-Europeans who used this symbol — “Aryans” as they had been termed in the 18th century — were some Nordic-Atlantean “master race”, decided that they were their descendants, and adopted their oldest symbol as their own. And that’s why we don’t use swastikas in Western culture anymore.

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1 Response

  1. Interesting. I’ve never seen swastikas on an old postcard before. Yes, it’s an age-old symbol. Even some ancient synagogues used them. They are very common in Hindu temples in India. That took some getting used to the first time I went there!

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