Unofficial French symbols are Marianne and the cockerel (rooster). Learn about the origin, symbolism, history of these symbols and many other exciting facts.
Marianne and the cockerel (rooster) are generally recognized as French symbols but do not have a legal standing.
Marianne is a national symbol of France, symbolizing reason, liberty and the ideals of the republic. The portrait of Marianne is seen frequently in France, including numerous statues, coins, stamps and banknotes. She emerged during the revolutionary years, and was often shown in heroic roles, leading the republicans to freedom for example. Typically she wore a ‘Phrygian cap’ or ‘Cap of Liberty’ (a soft felt conical hat), and this is now usually how Marianne is depicted.
The French cockerel
The French cockerel (rooster) is a long-standing symbol of France, dating back to Gallic times – it appeared because the words for cockerel and Gallic were very similar in ancient French. In the Middle Ages it was widely depicted in French churches and is recorded in 14th century Germany in references to France. The rooster recalls the Gallic origins of the nation, with the symbol initially adopted, linguists believe, owing to a pun on the Latin word for cockerel and the ancient state of Gaul. France’s enemies made this joke because of the supposed stubbornness and brazen pride of the people, but it was to be turned on its head as the French took the bird to their hearts as an icon of their nation.
The cockerel appears on stamps, coins, the French Official Seal etc., despite Napoleon announcing that it was inappropriate to use the cockerel, saying that it cannot represent such empire as France.
Significance of cockerel
Regardless of the strange heritage, the rooster has great symbolic value as it signifies faith and light. The crowing of the cockerel each morning represents the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.