There is no doubt that we live in what is often referred to as a global society or a global community. As more and more people are emigrating to other parts of the world for personal or business reasons, they find themselves in a culture that is frequently the polar opposite to their homeland.
Sometimes the differences are so marked that they need to stay tapped into their own heritage, their own roots, to remind them of their homeland and customs. This is especially true of those societies where religion forms the basis of their culture. It is also why you will see many immigrants use religious icons as an important feature of their home décor.
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Religious Influences in Home Décor
To get an idea of just how ethnicity enters into religious home décor, let’s look at the differences in home décor between Roman Catholics and those practicing within the Eastern Rites. If you were to walk into a home with a three-dimensional crucifix hanging over the door you would automatically assume they were of the Roman Rite.
However, if there was a hand-painted Russian icon, you might think they were Orthodox in union with the Greek patriarch or, perhaps, one of the Eastern rites in union with the Roman pope. Either way, it is the icon that is the telltale sign and an important difference in religious ethnic cultures.
Common Places to Hang Catholic Holy Art
Many Eastern rites have framed icons throughout the house, but each has a special meaning in terms of placement. In fact, there is a long tradition of where Russian icons should be placed but they are always supposed to be the focal point of any room. While there are icons of important saints, you will find that most Russian Orthodox or Russian Catholics have at least one icon of the Savior and one of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God.
For Roman Catholics, you will often see the crucifix hanging over a door or in the bedroom over the bed. Some people believe that this custom came from a centuries’ old belief that a blessed crucifix warded off evil. Over the door it kept evil out and when hung at the head of the bed it was to keep the evil of nightmares at bay.While contemporary Roman Catholics may not know where these customs originated, you will most often see crucifixes hanging in these traditional spots within a home.
A Reminder of Home
Since religion is often at the root of one’s tradition and culture, these religious works of holy art are important when having relocated many thousands of miles from home. Even when the move was highly anticipated, it isn’t unusual to miss life in the old country. While families often bring secular bits of décor along with them, those don’t seem to offer the same sense of reassurance and peace that religious holy art provides.
To the common observer, these pieces of religious décor may simply mean just that, religious décor as a statement of faith. What many don’t quite understand is how that décor helps remind them of the faith they have that they are under the protection of an all-loving God. These works of religious holy art make it so much easier to assimilate into a totally new culture in a new world yet to be understood.