Host & Hostess Symbols

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Germanic legend tells that Thor, the god of thunder, created thunder by flinging his hammer throughout the heavens whenever he was angry. The Norsemen believed that the oak tree which grows from a tiny acorn is the tree of heaven and could protect them from Thor's rage, so they placed acorns on their windowsills, thereby warding off all the dangers associated with thunder and lightning.

Holly & Ivy

Early Christians used to display evergreen plants in their homes to symbolise everlasting life. Holly (representing the masculine) and Ivy (the feminine) were the most popular combination.

According to English legend, both plants together protect a house against evil spirits.

Peach blossom

In China, peach blossoms are believed to ward off illness and danger. Branches of the blossoms are hung on the outside of their homes, thereby preventing guests from bringing in any unwanted influences.

Candles, Cake & Wine

In Portugal, it used to be customary to have an "open house" from Christmas until New Year's Day. During this period, every window in the house flickered with candlelight as a sign of welcome to all passers-by. Each visitor was treated to a small cake and some wine.

Candles, Bread & Salt

According to a Jewish tradition, a gift of candles, bread and salt blesses the home of a loved one. It symbolises the giver's prayer that the house will always be filled with light, bountiful food and spiced with joy.


During Colonial times when seafaring was a way of life for many settlers, the pineapple became a symbol of hospitality. A pineapple was brought back from each voyage and put on the gate outside the home to announce the safe return and welcoming friends to visit.


  • Custom of leaving a candle burning in the window until a loved one returns from a journey.

  • It is part of classical marriage ceremonies to lead the bride in a solemn torch-lit procession to the home of her husband to be.


Also known as the "horn of plenty", spilling over with grains, vegetables and fruits, symbolizes a bountiful harvest. Ancient Romans used a large sea shell filled with fruit to symbolize the abundance of life's material goods.


Legend tells of a Roman king who asked his three daughters to describe their love for him. The oldest said she loved her father as much as bread, the middle one said as much as wine, but the youngest said she loved him as much as salt. Offended at being compared to such a common substance, the king banished his youngest daughter from his presence. To show him how precious her comparison had been, she had her father served a completely saltless meal. At the blandness of the food, her father recognised the depth of her love and welcomed her back into his life.

  • Gypsies use bread and salt to confirm an oath.

  • In the early European days, salt was used to ward of evil and to protect against the witches. Superstitious people still follow this tradition by sprinkling salt over the threshold of a new house to prevent the entry of evil spirits.