This popular icon has a more complicated meaning that you might have thought.
Various theories have erupted over what the symbol actually represents, but now you can rest easy knowing the answers are just a few seconds away. Here’s a history of the peace symbol in 7 quick facts:
- The peace symbol first appeared at a protest against nuclear weapons in 1958 in Trafalgar Square in London.
- The peace symbol was created by designer Gerald Holtom, who developed the symbol for the 1958 protest especially.
- The design comes from a combination of the letters “N” and “D” in the semaphore alphabet, the code used by sailors to communicate messages from a distance. “N” and “D” stood for “nuclear disarmament”.
4. But Holtom also intended the image to evoke “an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards.”
5. Likely brought over by Bayard Rustin, who attended the 1958 march in London, the peace symbol first appeared in the United States in the name of the civil rights movement.
6. In the 1960s, the peace symbol found its true fame as a representative of the anti-war protests.
7. In 1969, the John Birch Society published an article decrying the peace symbol. Their false claim that the symbol was satanic received such popularity that this misconception still continues today.
The peace symbol has become so widely used that many have forgotten where it originated and what inspired it, but knowing the origins of these popular symbols cast them in a new light and inspire a deeper consideration of them.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?