Tonight’s the night . . in Santiago de Compostela! Ten interesting facts you didn’t know about Camino de Santiago and St James
On the evening of 24th July, in the Plaza del Obradoiro (the main square of Santiago de Compostela old town, to the west of the Cathedral), there is a mass display of fireworks (Fuegos del Apóstol) to mark the start of the main part of the fiesta dedicated to Saint James in, Galicia, Spain.
Santiago or Saint James, is the Patron Saint of all Spain. The annual Feast of Saint James (Día de Santiago) takes places in Santiago de Compostela on 25th July and is a public holiday in Galicia. The city is one of the most symbolic in Spain and, whenever you visit, you can be sure to see many pilgrims – religious ones as well as those who simply enjoy the scenic journey along the Camino de Santiago (mostly across northern Spain).
Many of the walkers or journeymen (or women) will carry the traditional walking staff and/or one of the three main symbols of “El Camino” – the St James Cross (Cruz de Santiago), the Scallop Shell (la Concha de Vieira) or the yellow Waymarker symbol).
Each year, some 200,000 people travel the Camino from all over the world: Some walk, others travel by bike. Many travellers choose to do the Camino for personal, rather than any spiritual or religious reasons – taking time out from their busy modern lives and perhaps finding inspiration along the way, whilst reflecting on their life in a supportive environment. Everyone experiences the journey in a different way.
Souvenir of Camino Santiago and Jewellery with meaning
At the journey’s end, when they arrive in the capital city of Santiago de Compostela (and more especially, at the Cathedral) most will hope receive their “Compostela” – the official recognition from the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago that they have successfully completed the Camino.
Many visitors will try to arrive in Santiago in the days leading up to 25th July, which is both the Día de Santiago and the Día de Galica, Galicia’s regional day.
Saint James is believed to have visited Spain to preach Christianity and, when he was martyred in the Middle East, his body was thought to have been transported by boat to the Galician coast. His remains were discovered around 800AD, by a hermit following the path of star into a field – thereby giving us the name ‘Compostela’ (literally, the field of the star).
So, if you are lucky enough to be in Santiago today or some time soon, don’t forget to look out for the “Botafumeiro” – a huge incense burner that is swung back and forth down the Cathedral aisle during official masses like the one today which is usually attended by members of the Spanish Royal family and the Galician government. It weighs around 80kg and it takes eight people to swing it!
Souvenir of Spain
If you are unable to bring back a souvenir of this great experience (both a souvenir of Spain as well as a souvenir of Camino de Santiago), or perhaps you would like to give a little memento of Camino de Santiago to a friend or loved-one, we have many such gifts in our shop online: See some CAMINO de SANTIAGO GIFTS in our store.
If YOU are looking for a lucky gift . . you are not alone! At any one time, up to 30% of shoppers are looking to buy a gift (£1bn+ in sales, in the UK alone) and of those, 10% are shopping to buy a “good luck gift” – that’s a lot of good luck sentiment looking to buy something to pass on wishes of good fortune to a friend or loved-one in their latest venture, event or occasion.
Many politicians, actors and sports people in particular like to carry a lucky charm, talisman or amulet, or keep one in their car, house or office. But they are not the only people who believe in good luck symbols and charms: Millions of us like to put our trust in little good luck talismans to attract good fortune (or amulets to ward off bad luck). It’s probably all down to superstition: For example, so many people avoid the number 13 in the Western hemisphere, that it is often absent from the floor of a hotel or the seat number on a plane.
The truth is, that behind many of our beliefs, there is a long history of superstition to which many people feel compelled to adhere. For example, the tradition of touching wood for good luck, dates back thousands of years when trees and Mother Nature were perceived as having a special connection. Even these days, there are few people who will openly tempt fate. This is because they sub-consciously believe that Fate is lurking out there somewhere, and they don’t want to attract her wrath.
In Greek and Roman Mythology, Fate was in fact THREE goddesses who presided over the birth, and life of humans. Each person’s destiny was depicted as a thread – spun, measured, and finally cut by the three Fates: Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. On the other hand, Lady Luck is said to be the personification of GOOD luck, a version of Fortuna (or the Greek goddess Tyche) who was the goddess of fortune and the embodiment of luck in Roman culture. Fortuna is often depicted holding a ship’s rudder, a Rota Fortunae (wheel of fortune, first mentioned by Cicero) and a Cornucopia (horn of plenty). However, even Fortuna represented life’s capriciousness and could bring good luck and bad in equal measure because she was also a goddess of fate.
So, over the centuries, the concept of luck has been important and even today millions of people genuinely believe that some sort of good luck charm will bring them good fortune and prosperity, and that it will keep misfortune at bay. In fact, it has been proved in scientific experiments that it is this BELIEF that makes them have good luck or bad.
The British Museum has a complete collection of lucky charms and talismans dating back centuries. Some of the most powerful people in the world have believed in good luck charms: President Roosevelt carried one in his jacket; Napoleon carried a lucky coin; and during his election campaign, Barack Obama carried an array of good luck charms in his pocket. Michael Jordan, the famous Chicago Bulls basketball star, spent his entire NBA career wearing his old University of North Carolina shorts under his team shorts – for good luck.
So, yes, people like to have so-called ‘Lucky Charms’, and giving one to a friend or loved-one can be a smart idea because, overall, most people are mindful of Lady Luck and are often looking for ways to appease her. To make sure that your Lucky Gift goes down well, it would be wise to listen to the words of Tennessee Williams: “There’s real power in a thought made positive or concrete by a lucky charm”. Yes, lucky charm gifts really can help people’s dreams come true, and a gift for good luck that has real meaning will almost always be a success.
Our good luck gifts are based on ancient faiths, talismans, and symbols . . the sort that have helped people for many years. People have put their faith in these beliefs for centuries: And our gifts help people to have this belief. They have real provenance and derivation.
The simple lucky clover:
It is believed that the meaning of clovers pre-dates Christianity, going back to a time when clovers were used as Celtic charms. The Celts once extended across Ireland and into much of Western Europe and the Celtic priests, the Druids, considered them a sign of good luck, allegedly protecting against evil spirits and warding off evil / bad luck.
According to legend, the four leaves of a Lucky Clover represent hope, faith, love, and luck because, in Irish Christian tradition, the Shamrock (or 3-leaf clover) represented the Holy Trinity: one leaf for the Father, one for the Son and one for the Holy Spirit. When a Shamrock has a fourth leaf, it represents God’s Grace, and so encapsulates everything that a person could want.
The ubiquitous lucky horseshoe:
The Horseshoe is probably the most commonly recognised good luck symbol in the Western World. The combination of luck, protection, religion, and magic that is captivated by the Horseshoe symbol means that many people believe it will bring them good fortune – and help to ward off evil.
Man has long believed that the crescent-shape was a powerful protective talisman: For the Greeks, it symbolised the moon with links to Artemis and Diana. In olde England, St Dunstan nailed a horseshoe to a horse when working as a blacksmith. But the horse was actually the Devil in disguise and it caused the Devil great pain. St Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe after the Devil promised never to enter a house with a horseshoe. And so, the symbol of protection arose.
For years, people have thought that certain gemstones have magical powers. e.g. Jade is supposed to promote longevity; Rose Quartz to attract love, and Carnelian is believed to bring courage.
Back to Cleopatra and beyond, gemstone jewellery has been worn for their supposed magical powers . . to help protect people, bring them prosperity and good luck, as well as good health, longevity . . even love, and to help them to succeed. It has been scientifically proved that this belief brings people better fortune in their lives.
Religious symbols for good fortune
Many people believe that religious symbols can bring them good fortune. For example, on the famous Camino de Santiago across northern Spain it is common to see people carrying the Scallop Shell symbol – la concha de vieira . . an expression and reflection of their faith perhaps, but also for some, it has been give them as a lucky gift to wish “buen viaje” or “buen camino” or “good journey”.
Many also carry with them the cross of St James, the Travellers Cross – believed to promote faith and good fortune.
Not all lucky gifts are the same. But one thing is certain: The gifts for good luck in our shop are designed to be just that: Gifts to pass on good fortune – items for the home or office that are genuinely believed to be lucky – possessing provenance and real, genuine character that really DOES mean something, and usually featuring symbols that people have put their faith in for many years.
Make sure that your lucky gift has real provenance / derivation. If it doesn’t, it’ll just be another meaningless gift to fill up the mantlepiece shelf.
Now that you know it’s best if a lucky gift has real meaning, you’re ready to find that ideal and magical gift for good luck that features in our shop