Why Are Acorns Considered a Symbol of Learning and Growth?

Posted by Robert Heiney on

It’s an old and lovely tradition to give new graduates – or anyone else who’s embarking on a new stage in their life journey – a gift of acorns. The common sentiment to accompany these gifts is From tiny acorns, great oaks grow. We’re going to look a little deeper into the background and explain why acorns have long been considered a symbol of learning and growth.

Glimpses from the Sacred Grove: Druids and Acorns

Among the ancient Celts, the Druids were considered wise teachers. These devoted scholars did everything they could to increase their understanding of the universe, so they could better lead and protect the people. 

One of the things Druids were known to do was eat acorns. It was rumored that they did this to build their prophetic abilities and better see what the future held. Adding to this mystique is the fact that oaks are hit by lightning more than any other kind of tree – a phenomenon early people considered enlightening and divine in nature.

A more pragmatic take on the issue is that Druids may have valued acorns as a food for the mind – the protein-rich nuts can help boost brain power. Either way, the association between acorns and the pursuit of knowledge came early to the Irish people. Reinforcing this tradition is the fact that acorns grow into oak trees, and oaks were and are incredibly important to the Celts.

Understanding the Importance Of Oaks 

The early Irish people considered the Oak the most sacred tree. Oaks were

called the King of Trees because they grew larger than many other trees in the region. The wood is strong and durable, and an Oak tree can live a very long time – hundreds and hundreds of years. Every element of the oak tree – leaves, wood, and acorns, has been used to represent strength and power.

Oak trees were also a valuable source of food. During the Bronze and Iron Ages in particular, Celtic people relied on the oak’s hearty bounty of acorns to keep alive. The acorns themselves became symbols of prosperity and good fortune. 

Acorns in the Contemporary Setting

While most people have never eaten an acorn, almost everyone can appreciate the sentiments of potential, perseverance, and a prosperous future that are associated with this little nut. When I designed the Celtic Acorn Pocket Charms, I chose sentiments for the back that would uplift, encourage, and remind people that they can do anything they set their minds to. For people seeking a personal talisman of encouragement, the Celtic Acorn pendant bears the inscription My Spirit is Stronger than Any Obstacle Before Me. 

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