The Swastika Was Once a Symbol of Good Luck
By Chad Upton | Editor
Today, the swastika is frequently associated with one of the most horrible and unfortunate times in human history — it was the symbol of Nazi Germany (1933-1945).
Because its recent history is awful, the swastika is nearly taboo in many cultures. But, the symbol has been around for thousands of years, most of those years as a very peaceful symbol.
The name “swastika” comes from the Sanskrit word svastika, meaning “lucky” or “well being.” It is generally used on people and things to denote good luck or wish well being. It goes by many names in many different places: hook cross, crooked cross, angled cross, sun cross, sun wheel, hakenkreuz (German), among others.
The swastika can be traced back about 11,500 years, to the Neolithic period. It’s past and present are deeply rooted primarily in Eastern religions although there are many examples of it in other religions. Long before it had any negative connotation, it was popular in religions and cultures including: Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Chinese and Japanese art and many others.
Many people are unfamiliar with the swastika’s relationship to Christianity. They used it to symbolize Christ’s victory over death. Some cathedrals built during the Romanesque and Gothic eras are decorated with swastikas, including the tile floor of this Roman Catholic Church in France (Amiens Cathedral).
Matilde Moisant, the second woman to get her pilot’s license, wore a swastika pendant on her 1912 uniform for good luck. This was a common practice among early aviators and test pilots.
Although the swastika is generally associated with an awful time, its original meaning is still an important symbol in many cultures, so it’s important to understand that it was a positive symbol for most of its life.