Ribbon symbolism is a popular way to show your support for a cause, but it’s been a staple of fashion and art for longer than you might think. Many cultures have used the symbolism of ribbons for thousands of years. Essentially, ever since humans started cutting and weaving fabrics, the ribbon has been used as an artistic symbol representing something bigger than just a strip of cloth. Keep reading to learn about the symbolism behind ribbon décor that many don't know!
Symbolic Use of Ribbons in History
Pinpointing an exact time when ribbons came into use is tricky because you can find evidence of ribbons dating back to 2000 B.C.E. Ribbons rose in popularity as silk expanded throughout the world. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Britain and Europe used ribbons frequently both as symbols and in fashion as looms began to work better and faster at the dawn of the industrial revolution.
Not only did ribbons explode in popularity for fashion, but as artistic symbols as well. Men and women in Europe exchanged ribbons as favors, and the fabric also became synonymous with awards. First, people used ribbons for pinning medals, and then the ribbon itself was a commendation, a tradition that lives on today with blue ribbons used as prizes for competitions. As ribbons were inexpensive and colorful, they became a popular token to show support for political causes in Europe, with many groups adopting a ribbon color to distinguish themselves in public.
But what do ribbons symbolize today?
Symbolic Use of Ribbons Today
Now that we know the history of ribbons, how have they been adopted in modern times? In America, ribbons came to prominence in the 20th century through military use, songs, and movies. The yellow ribbon as a symbol is common. The U.S. military used a piece about yellow ribbons for marching cadence, but the yellow ribbon reached mainstream consciousness mainly from popular songs and as an act by families of victims of the Iran Hostage Crisis in the 1980s. The act of tying a yellow ribbon caught on as a trend for families of soldiers in the first Gulf War and became more common in the 21st century.
And what does the red ribbon symbolize? We use it to show support for the fight against HIV. The ribbon also became a popular token for America's health and wellness causes in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. HIV/AIDS advocates adopted the red ribbon to distinguish supporters and raise awareness of the illness. Breast cancer victims and survivors used the pink ribbon, and the colored ribbon took off as a symbol for many cancer diagnoses and diseases.
However, the most common use of ribbons is still festivities and parties! As technology for weaving and printing grew, ribbons became more colorful with more dynamic designs and colors, making them useful for all kinds of celebrations. Personalized grosgrain ribbons, featuring customizable and vibrant prints on the ribbon, are typical décor for extravagant parties.
That's just a little about the rich history of the simple ribbon and how it's transformed from its origins thousands of years ago to its current uses today. Now, the next time you see a ribbon, you'll understand the symbolism behind ribbon décor that many don't know! To learn more about ribbon symbolism or the history of ribbons, explore our blogs. You can also contact us for assistance in finding the right ribbon for your cause!