SlingerVille Articles
Swallow Tattoos
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June 04, 2013

Swallow Tattoos

Swallow tattoos are a very common tattoo choice.  The bird is easy on the eyes and has a deep meaning.   Several swallow species travel long distances each year, migrating from one part of the world to another; this is where people get the tattoo meaning connected with travel. explains the meaning of swallow tattoos in depth: 

Although there are dozens of species of swallows that don’t migrate, the most popular meaning for swallow tattoos is travel. Some species of swallow travel from Europe to Africa, crossing most of the planet in order to avoid the cold of winter. In countries where migrating sparrows live, the return of the birds is a sign that spring has arrived. In the past, swallows were believed to actually carry spring with them as they flew. Spring is associated with change, new beginnings and new life. As the creature that brings spring to different parts of the world, swallows are a symbol of both newness and the return of joy and easy times.

Sailors of the past were very aware of the movement of birds because the appearance or flight of certain birds were signs of the weather turning. Swallows were a good sign that the stormy winter seas were soon going to calm, making a sailor’s life safer and easier. Sailors respected swallows because like them, the little bird traveled great distances even though travelling was dangerous. It is said that one swallow tattoo on a sailor’s body meant that he had traveled 5,000 nautical miles. Two swallow tattoos meant that the sailor had traveled 10,000 nautical miles, a great achievement for a sailor of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Two swallows was a symbol that the sailor was responsible and courageous; deserving of respect and admiration.

Sailors wore swallow tattoos not only as a symbol of how many miles they had traveled, but as a lucky charm. Because the swallow always returns home, a tattoo of a swallow was a good luck charm that would bring the sailor home to his family. Because of this meaning, swallow tattoos have also become popular with soldiers as a lucky charm to bring the soldier home to his or her family and friends.

Countries that see the return of swallows in spring have given these birds another meaning; home coming, for although swallows may leave when the weather turns chilly, the birds return with the beginning of spring. Swallow tattoos can be a symbol of home or patriotism; a way for a person to honor their family, city or country of birth. Because the swallow always returns each year, this bird can be a symbol of loyalty and love. The association of all bird tattoos with the freedom of flight can be added to the meaning of a swallow tattoo, creating a visual representation of the saying, “If you love someone, set them free. If they love you, they will come back.”


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Posted By: CantSeeTheSink | 6/04/13 7:47 PM
I actually learned something worthwhile on a tattoo website... AMAZING!
Posted By: cheechee | 6/05/13 1:58 PM
This is great! I would love to see more article on the history and origin of tattoos. I really like swallows, and would like to have one on my back, but the meaning wouldn't be as significant as described above.
Posted By: BenchWarmers1 | 6/05/13 7:50 PM
Loving that swallow.
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