Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Momma's Sand Dollars

Tammy (middle daughter) sent me the article I'm sharing today, she thought it would make a good blog post ~ I think so too. When she sent it to me I immediately remembered seeing 2 sand dollars in Momma's jewelry box.
Most of Momma's things are packed away now, but I got down the boxes and found her sand dollars!

The Legend of the Sand Dollar

Margaret C. Gallitzin
It is difficult to find a shell so rich in symbolism as the sand dollar. When I was a girl, I saw my first sand dollar – which I later learned was called the key hole sand dollar – and my uncle, a priest, explained to me how it represented the story of the Birth, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I never forgot that lesson of how to see God in visible Creation.

front sand dollar 
The sand dollar - front above, and back below
sand dollar back
The sand dollar is flat-looking burrowing sea urchin belonging to the order Clypeasteroida. It lives on the floor of shallow sandy waters along the coasts of ocean waters in the Northern Hemisphere. The mollusks are washed up on Oregon Coast beaches regularly.

After the urchin is washed up on the beach and bleached by the sun, it looks like a large silver coin, such as the old Spanish or American dollar. Ergo, its simple American name. In other places it is known as the sea biscuit or pansy shell.

It was not long, however, before a legend rich in Catholic symbolism developed about the poorly named sand dollar. This was the story my uncle told me:

On the top part of the shell you can clearly see in the center a star, which represents the Star of Bethlehem that led the Wise Men to the manger when Christ was born. Around it is the outline of the Easter lily, a sign of Our Lord’s Resurrection.

At the edges of the star are four holes and in the center another one. These remind us of the four Sacred Wounds of Our Lord on His Hands and Feet that He bore after being nailed to the Cross. A center hole, the fifth, represents the pierce Wound to His Sacred Heart made by the spear of Longinus.

If you turn the sand dollar over, you will find an outline of the Poinsetta, the Christmas flower.

The sand dollar always has five doves inside

I wouldn't dare break open Momma's sand dollars, but I sure would love to see those five doves inside.

Finally, if you break open the sand dollar, five "doves" emerge – the doves of the Peace and Joy of Christmas. There are always five doves every time you open one.

Many poems have been written about the legend of the sand dollar. This one, author unknown, is my favorite:

The legend of the Sand dollar
That I would like to tell
Of the birth and death of Jesus Christ
Found in this lowly shell.

If you will examine closely,
You'll see that you find here
Four nail holes and a fifth one
Made by a Roman's spear.

On one side the Easter Lily,
It's center is the star
That appeared unto the shepherds
And led them from afar.

The Christmas Poinsettia
Etched on the other side
Reminds us of His birthday,
Our joyous Christmas tide.

Now break the center open
And here you will release
The five white doves awaiting
To spread good will and peace.

This simple little symbol,
Christ left for you and me.
To help to spread His Message
Through all eternity.

I did not know all these things about the sand dollar!  And wasn't that a great poem?

Time to put away Momma's little treasure.  She always put her treasures in her jewelry box.  She wore very little jewelry, I think she should have called it her treasure box.

Little is much when God is in it.

Until Next Time
Simple Treasures bring lots of Pleasure


  1. Fascinating post about the sand dollar, Mary! Thank you for sharing!

  2. I did not know all that either,Mary, thanks for sharing this with us!

  3. Such interesting things I've learned, Ms. Mary. Wow! God certainly does speak to us through His creation. Thanks for sharing. Happy Tuesday!

  4. I had no idea, Mary. Lovely post, have beautiful day, friend. Blessings

  5. Perhaps we will find some sand dollars at the beach next week and I can share this information with family! Thanks for this reminder. I had heard it before, but hadn't thought about it in ages. Timely!!

  6. I am in love with this story Miss Mary! I love it! I have a Sand Dollar that some ladies gave to me in a gift basket once when I spoke for a ladies conference at Fernandina Beach in Fla. It still sits on my shelf. I am NOT going to break it either but now I've got to go back and examine it! Thanks for sharing this. I may have to use this....You can borrow my lemonade jar gift idea and I will borrow this one! LOL! Hugs and blessings, Cindy


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