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Bluebird of Happiness: Collecting China, Glass and Bird Items

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 @ 12:07 PM Karen Hood

by Val Ubell
Source: Collector’s Quest

China Plates In Blue Bird Pattern

Every spring we have a wonderful treat as we look out our kitchen window. We love birds and sometimes lament the cost of buying the seed, the continuous chore of filling up the feeders in the cold Wisconsin winters, and putting suet into the ‘cage’ with frozen fingers. But we do get some special rewards for our endeavors! We have an incredible visitor – an indigo bunting! Vibrant blue, small and cheerful, he makes us smile and we always vie for which of us will spot him first. He is our ‘bluebird of happiness’, you might say!

But long before he came along, I have loved blue birds. I have them in the kitchen, on old china pieces, on salt and pepper shakers, a creamer, a vase, and even a sentimental plate. My most recent treasure is a German, lustre canister set that is just covered with them! (This was a gift from dear hubby for our anniversary.)

As I glanced around at them this weekend, I realized they needed to be cleaned for anticipated guests and family. (Kitchen items do tend to get a bit ‘greasy’, even though I am constantly teased for not cooking a lot.) I began to wonder just why we call them ‘bluebirds of happiness’ and if this was a fairly new thought process. So, using one of my favorite tools, I “Googled” those words “Blue Bird of Happiness” and ‘voila’, I received the requested information and learned a lot.

Lustre Canister Set

It turns out that to many Native American tribes, the bluebird was sacred. According to the Cochiti tribe, the firstborn son of Sun was named Bluebird. The Navajo hold the Mountain Bluebird to be a great spirit in animal form and associate it with the rising sun. Their Bluebird song is still used in social settings and performed in the 9-day Ye’iibicheii Winter Nightway Ceremony.

I also learned that a popular song by Jan Peerce and Art Mooney and his orchestra called “Bluebird of Happiness” was recorded in 1948 and introduced at the Radio City Music Hall. There was also a stage play called “The Blue Bird” by Maurice Maeterlick in 1908. It was made into several films throughout the 20th century, including the 1940 original starring Shirley Temple.

But the mythology of the bluebird actually goes back a lot farther. For example, in Europe, a noted fairy tale is called “L’Oiseau Bleu” (The Blue Bird) by Madame d’Aulnoy (1650-1705) and it seems to be the root of modern accounts of bluebird symbology and myth. In this tale, King Charming is transformed into a bluebird, who is the love interest of the younger princess Fiordelisa and aids her through her trials.

Blue Birds

In magical symbology, bluebirds are used to represent confidence in the positive aspect and egotism in the negative. A dead bluebird is a symbol of disillusionment, or the loss of innocence, and of transformation from the younger and naïve to the older and wiser.

Indigenous cultures across the globe hold similar beliefs. It is the most universally accepted symbol of cheerfulness, happiness, prosperity, hearth and home, good health, new births, and the renewal of spring! Virtually any positive sentiments may be attached to the bluebird.

So I am not alone in my thinking. I will wear my bird pins and earrings regularly, display my blue birds around the house and whistle a cheerful song! How big is your bluebird collection?

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