The Camino de Santiago has a rich variety of symbols, which is not surprising, because with the passing of time new symbols representing its time have been appearing. That’s why I like to say that we don’t really know all the symbols of the Path yet, because as the years go by more and more will appear.

Therefore, in this article we will point out which are the most popular, because as you can already guess, a path that has hundreds of years of history also has hundreds of symbols. Therefore, we will show you the most relevant and known.

Symbols of the Camino de Santiago

The pilgrim shell

Or also known as common scallop, is enormously linked to the Jacobean journey, in fact, a curiosity that few people know is that its scientific name (Pecten Jacobeus) is a sign of the importance that the road has had in Galicia.

The shell has always been used as a real proof that the tour has been done. This is due to the fact that this peculiar mollusk can only be obtained on the route. With the advent of the Internet its real test value has lost many whole (since you can perfectly acquire it on the Internet) however, it remains a symbol of enormous representativeness, a true icon of the pilgrim’s journey.

As we said, their value has always been probative, as pilgrims took one to prove in their home countries that they had completed the journey.

The Cross of Santiago

This peculiar looking cross is characterized by being a Latin cross of gules. It simulates a sword, and has the shape of a fleur-de-lys, both in the arms and in the handle. Historically, its origin is linked to the Crusades and the religious behaviour of the Crusader knights, who carried small sharp crosses in order to nail them to the ground and thus be able to pray in the presence of the cross.

Note that the sword refers to the combative and chivalrous character of the apostle James. Moreover, if you know the history of the apostle you will know that he was beheaded with a sword, so it is a good symbol of his suffering.

Normally, in addition to its link with this path, it symbolized religious wars, since it was interpreted as a sign to take up arms in the name of the Lord.

The arrow of Santiago

If you have ever traveled the Way of St. James, it is most likely that you have been struck by the fact that all the arrows pointing to the stage to be covered are yellow. This does not have a scientific explanation but is rather due to the zeal of the parish priest Elías Valiña who began this tradition in 1984 (as you can see, the symbols appear over time and spontaneously). One of the arguments that explain the color of the arrows is that yellow is a very easy color to see in the landscapes of the route.

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Many neighbours of the different villages continued this tradition until the reality that is manifested today. They cover the route of yellow arrows practically in its totality.

The hat

The hat of the way presents a very characteristic form and that we are sure that you will already know. However, if you’re a little clueless and don’t know how to do it, we’ll explain it to you: basically, it’s a wide-brimmed hat which folds into a half-moon.

The origin of the hat is born more as a necessity than by chance. The ancients already knew perfectly well the effects of excessive sunbathing. They may not have known what we know about certain diseases (such as skin cancer) but they did know how bad a burn is, especially if you have to walk long distances.

Today, as in the past, pretending to do the tour without any kind of protection is a real suicide. In fact, the least serious thing that can happen to you if you choose this option is a slight burn. If you are going to make the way and do not know what to carry in the backpack we recommend the article we just linked.

The Staff

The cayado is a utensil that has made it easier for us to walk through the centuries. However, the professionalization of hiking has resulted in less use of it, as industrial solutions have overshadowed the use of traditional solutions. However, this does not mean that a staff is no longer a great ally (and above all a very economic ally).

Pumpkin

The pumpkin emerged, like the drone, as a method to facilitate the life of the pilgrims. It was formerly used as a practical and economical way of transporting liquids and keeping them cold. Nowadays it has no “useful” value but it has a strong symbolic value. It is common to see pilgrims who add this accessory to their attire or continue to hang it from the staff as in the past. Without a doubt, it is one of the most representative symbols of the Camino de Santiago.

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