Early this morning, I stumbled across a delightful post by Jed Sundall about the significance of the red cap atop the pole in Argentina’s coat of arms pictured to the right of Papa Smurf.
Jed had learned from a tour guide at the Argentine National Congress that:
“the coat’s rising sun represents the birth of a new nation, the blue and white background reminds us of the clear sky and the Río de la Plata, the laurels symbolize Argentina’s successful struggle for freedom, the joining hands represent the solidarity of the Argentine people, and the staff represents the power of the people’s union.”
The tour guide didn’t know the significance of the hat, but Jed subsequently learned,
“The hat is a liberty, or Phrygian, cap. Its inclusion on the coat of arms completes a graceful visualization of Argentina’s motto, En Unión y Libertad (In Union and Liberty).”
Jed further explained:
“Phrygia was an ancient kingdom in what is now Turkey. Its inhabitants would wear soft, red caps with the top pointed forward to distinguish themselves from their neighbors. Over time, the Greeks came to dominate the region, and the Phrygian caps eventually came to represent anything eastern or non-Greek. The caps became a symbol of freedom much later when freed Roman slaves started wearing them to represent their new status as Roman citizens. Freedom lovers worldwide have been wearing them ever since.”
Even in the years before the US Revolutionary War, “liberty poles” topped with an ensign or a red Phrygian cap were often erected in town squares or on private land, to symbolize the colonist’s struggle for freedom.
Intrigued by Jed’s article, I subsequently learned from Wikipedia that a Phrygian cap is an integral symbol in the Seal of the United States Senate and was also included atop a pole held by the seated Liberty on a silver dollar minted in 1868.
So, while patriots today may favor flying the flag as a symbol of their love of liberty, it has been interesting to learn that early patriots wore red caps and courageously hoisted them high for all to see in defiant defense of the liberty they held dear.
I think I’ll go out and buy myself a red hat! And perhaps I’ll ask Santa Claus if he loves freedom, too!