General and specific symbols
Some symbols of the church are widely used, e.g. the sign of the cross, which symbolises the victory of life over death. The pastor traces the sign of the cross with his hand in the Benediction, in Eucharist, in baptism, at confirmation, weddings and funerals. Others are particularly associated with a specific rite or festival. Below some of the rite or festival specific symbols are presented.
The water in baptism symbolises birth, purity and life. To be baptised is to be born again as a child of God and a sibling to all of God's other children. The water washes away the sin in a person's life; the person is forgiven and the water symbolises that he or she is purified and that nothing will separate him or her from God. Water gives life and the use of water reminds us that God gives us life.
Many infants are baptised wearing a traditional white dress. As with the white dress that a girl wears at confirmation and a bride's wedding dress the white baptismal dress is a symbol that the one who wears it is blessed, loved and forgiven by God. The fact that the dress is way too long for the child symbolises that the child can grow as a Christian and that the promise made by God in baptism remains valid through the person's entire life.
The three handfuls of earth that the pastor casts on the coffin at a funeral symbolise the movement from life to death and to life again. As human beings we come from earth and will return to earth. But that is not all there is to say about us. We are also spiritual beings and therefore we shall rise again and live just as Jesus rose from the dead.
Flowers are a symbol of life, fruitfulness and perishableness. They grow, flower and die just like human beings. They can also be a sign of recklessness and of living in the present. Jesus says that we have something to learn from the lilies that do not worry but flower (the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 25-34). When we give each other flowers, it is a sign of participation. We give flowers under both happy and difficult circumstances, e.g. at weddings and funerals. At church services there are flowers on the altar, except on Good Friday.
Lamb symbolises the message of Easter. That is why many people eat lamb at Easter. Easter means that death passes by. Jesus' death on the cross on Good Friday means that the death penalty for all our sins has been paid and that we no longer need to die without hope of eternal life. In the Bible Jesus is called the Lamb of God and the lamb is used as a symbol of Jesus in both hymns and church art. A white lamb with a red banner symbolises Jesus after his resurrection. The white colour of the lamb symbolises purity and innocence whereas the red colour reminds us of the blood that was shed for us when Jesus was crucified.
Daffodil in Danish is påskelilje, which translated literally means Easter lily. The name of the flower reminds us of Easter and is a specific Danish symbol of resurrection and victory of life over death. The "dead" bulb is planted in the earth, it comes up and turns into a living beautiful flower.
Since the time of the early Church eggs have been used as a symbol of resurrection. The shell looks dead and lifeless as the grave but inside a new life is breaking out, just as Jesus broke out of the grave when he rose from the dead on Easter morning. At Easter we eat eggs and we decorate our homes with eggs and chickens. Some people also decorate the eggs, i.e. they colour them. Traditionally Easter eggs are red because red symbolises the blood that Jesus shed on the cross.