Skip to Content

Top 23 Symbols of Gratitude and Their Meanings

Top 23 Symbols of Gratitude and Their Meanings

We normally consider gratitude as a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation or some similar positive emotion towards someone. You can show gratitude in return for someone’s kindness or for doing you a favor or even some good words. But did you know that showing gratitude to someone else can actually hold a lot of benefits for you?

According to research, gratitude can have a strong link with your own happiness. By showing or feeling gratitude towards someone, you can establish a much stronger relationship, filled with positive emotions towards one another. In turn, this can allow you to have more positive experiences with each other and make happy memories. 

These positive emotions can help overcome adversities and develop stronger bonds. Altogether, this helps to create a positive impact on your health, which then helps in maintaining a happy and stress-free life

You can express gratitude in many ways and even apply it in your life in many ways. For instance, you can be thankful for your past, for your present, and even your future.

And if you’re not sure how to show that gratitude, here are the top 23 most important symbols of gratitude and their meanings:

1. Sweet Peas (Universal)

Sweet pea flowers.
A sweet pea flower as a symbol of gratitude
Giligone at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Flowers are always a great way to communicate certain messages to someone. Similarly, when you want to show gratitude and express how thankful you are to someone, flowers can be quite effective for the occasion. 

More specifically, sweet peas are a great choice to symbolize your gratitude for someone. You can get a bouquet of flowers with just sweet peas or along with other types of flowers.

With their sweet scent and pretty colors, the sweet peas will certainly stand out from the rest and help show the recipient exactly how thankful and appreciative you feel. 

2. Hydrangeas (Universal)

Hydrangea flowers.
A hydrangea flower as a symbol of gratitude
Ookwormbay7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another flower that not only looks great but sends a beautiful message as well is the hydrangea. These come in many different colors with different meanings.

They are often associated with beauty and grace as they have a round and full shape that looks lovely once the flower has fully bloomed. 

However, other than that, the flower also symbolizes gratitude and thankfulness. Hydrangeas are great when you want to thank someone for their understanding and establish a strong bond.

In fact, purple hydrangeas, in particular, are associated with a longing to understand someone. Besides that, the flowers are also associated with sincerity and apologetic feelings. 

3. Chrysanthemum (Universal)

A chrysanthemum.
A chrysanthemum flower as a symbol of gratitude
Aleksei Belta, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When you want to show gratitude or thank someone specifically for their friendship or for a sincere relationship with you, there’s no flower better than the chrysanthemum.

Chrysanthemums are beautiful flowers and depending on their color, they can have various meanings too. 

For instance, red chrysanthemums can represent love and passion while white chrysanthemums are often associated with loyalty and fidelity. However, in general, the flowers are associated with positive emotions, such as happiness, gratitude, and sincerity.

So, if you want to thank someone and show your appreciation, giving them a bunch of chrysanthemums can get the message across effectively. 

4. Roses (Universal)

Pink Rose
Pink roses as a symbol of gratitude
Carla Nunziata, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Roses are always a popular choice when giving flowers and they hold a lot of significance in floriography as well. While they are normally associated with romantic emotions and used to show your love for someone, they can be used to symbolize gratitude as well. 

One of the best parts about roses is that they come in many different colors and that’s why they can be used to portray a wide range of emotions. White roses can represent purity while yellow roses are associated with joy and friendship.

Pink or fuchsia roses, in particular, are commonly used to express gratitude and appreciation. This makes them the perfect flower to say thanks with. 

5. Gifts (Universal)

A gift wrapped with a pink bow.
A gift as a symbol of gratitude
Image Courtesy: pixabay.com

Gifts are truly the universal way of symbolizing gratitude and thankfulness towards someone. As mentioned earlier, we usually feel gratitude towards someone or appreciate them when they have done us a favor or shown us some kindness, thereby bringing us joy. 

As a result, through our gratitude, we wish to bring them the same joy and happiness.

Gifts are the perfect way to do this. It doesn’t have to be anything grand or expensive. It simply needs to show our thoughtfulness, sincerity, and appreciation for the recipient and the gift can symbolize our gratitude. 

6. Spiral (Universal)

Spiral staircase.
Spiral Staircase
Ludde Lorentz luddelorentz, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spiral symbols are present in many cultures and religions, and they can take on different associations as well. However, usually, a spiral symbol can be a great way to show your gratitude for someone.

A spiral symbol consists of a line spiraling outward or inward continuously. 

Just like how that spiral continues to move in a direction for infinity, it can represent your eternal gratitude and appreciation for someone. It can show how sincere you are with no limit to your feelings.

Therefore, whether you’re giving someone a card or jewelry or anything else, including a spiral symbol somehow can strengthen your feelings of gratitude. 

7. Bowing (Universal)

A person bowing to another person.
Bowing gesture as a symbol of gratitude
Maya-Anaïs Yataghène from Paris, France, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Today, bowing is common practice in most Asian countries. However, it has also been a part of European tradition. Moreover, universally, the act of bowing is considered to symbolize gratitude, humility, respect, and appreciation. It can also be used to portray feelings of apology towards someone. 

When you bow in front of someone, you show yourself to be so humbled and moved by the other person that it naturally translates as an expression of respect and appreciation.

Depending on how thankful you are, the bow can be drawn on for several seconds or the person can even deepen the bow by bending more and more. 

8. Prostration (Universal)

A small child prostrating.
Prostration as a symbol of gratitude
Image Courtesy: pixabay.com

If bowing was one way of showing gratitude, prostration is the ultimate way of expressing thanks. Similar to bowing, prostration is more common in certain cultures and religions like Islam.

Muslims often perform prostrations to show gratitude to their God for all His blessings. 

However, it is a universal act that can instantly be associated with showing gratitude, respect, or subservience. In fact, since during prostration, you are completely on the ground and can not go any lower, it is considered to be the utmost sign of gratitude and respect. 

9. Hummingbird (Universal) 

A hummingbird.
A hummingbird as a symbol of gratitude
Image by Domenic Hoffmann from Pixabay

As mentioned earlier, gratitude can be shown in many different ways. When you specifically want to show gratitude for the joy and happiness you are feeling, a hummingbird is a perfect symbol to encapsulate all that you are feeling.

The hummingbird is often considered to be an ancient symbol of joy and happiness. 

The bird, with its bright feathers and lively ways, can instantly make any person feel happy and grateful for all that they have in life. Therefore, if a hummingbird visits you, it is a sign that you need to be more appreciative and thankful for all that you have been blessed with in life.

10. Buffalo (Universal)  

A buffalo.
A buffalo as a symbol of gratitude
Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A strong animal like the buffalo is commonly associated with power, strength, force, and freedom. However, it also signifies other things, such as abundance, stability, and gratitude. This animal teaches us that there is always a lot to be grateful for.

In fact, if we actually express our gratitude and thankfulness more often, we are bound to see an increase in our wealth and enjoy more abundance.

As a spirit animal, the buffalo reminds us to practice more prayer and praise because everything we need is usually already with us.

11. Fish hook (New Zealand)

Maori Fish Hook
Maori Fish Hook
Vassil, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

According to Maori mythology, New Zealand was actually fished out of the water with a fishhook. As a result, the fishhook holds various important meanings for the Maori tribe, such as strength and determination. It is also said to bring peace and good luck to the people. 

More importantly, the fishhook ultimately symbolizes gratitude and thankfulness as it helps bring the people abundance and prosperity. It reminds them to appreciate what they have and how they got it.

Other than that, fish hooks are also popular in other cultures, such as Hawaiian, where they are considered a symbol of energy and a love for the oceans.

12. Dolphins (Universal)

A dolphin in the water.
A dolphin as a symbol of gratitude
Motoki Kurabayashi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dolphins are one of the cheeriest and friendliest animals out there. These creatures are also considered very intelligent and therefore, they are thought to be very finely attuned with their instincts.

But beyond that, they are also associated with gratitude and appreciation since they are always so genuine and sincere in their relationships. 

There have been many stories of how they saved sailors and other people out on the water. So, if you want to express your thanks to a friend specifically and show your sincere feelings for them, a dolphin symbol is an excellent way to do so.

13. Handshakes (Universal)

Two people shaking hands.
A handshake as a symbol of gratitude
Image from pixabay.com

Handshakes are a common gesture all over the world. However, even this simple gesture can actually have different meanings in different parts of the world. For instance, in some places, handshakes can be used to show respect and trust, while in other places, the gesture can be used as a show of power instead. 

Other than that, it is also often associated with gratitude and appreciation as well. It signifies that the person has certain positive feelings towards you.

The gesture symbolizes that you recognize the other person and their kindness and the clasping of the hands helps form a strong bond.

14. Cornucopia (Universal)

A cornucopia with fruits spilling out.
A cornucopia as a symbol of gratitude
Image from pixabay.com

The cornucopia is a horn-shaped basket, often found on many tables around Thanksgiving time. While it may be just used as a decorative item in most homes, it is actually an important symbol of gratitude. 

The cornucopia, also known as the horn of plenty, has its origins in Greek mythology where it was used to feed Zeus.

In more recent times, it has come to represent abundance and nourishment and serves as a reason for gratitude and thankfulness, regardless of what that abundance may mean for different people.

15. Circle (Universal)

A circle.
A circle as a symbol of gratitude
Image courtesy: pikrepo.com

A circle is a common shape and universal symbol as well that holds many different meanings. It can represent nature since many natural things are circular in shape. Similarly, it can symbolize perfection and absoluteness as the shape is complete and smooth with no edges. 

However, other than that, a circle can also be a symbol of gratitude. The nature of a circle is such that it continues to move along its circumference infinitely, with no limits.

Consequently, when you feel gratitude for someone endlessly with no limits, a circle is the perfect way to show it. 

16. Autumn (Universal)

Autumn in the woods.
Autumn as a symbol of gratitude
Image from pixabay.com

The different seasons of the year hold different meanings as well. While spring can be a time of hope and new life, autumn, in particular, is often associated with gratitude and thankfulness. During this season, the harvest is usually the ripest and in most abundance. 

As a result, it prompts farmers to be extra grateful for their produce and crops, as it serves as basic necessities and an important source of income.

Moreover, autumn is also a season of thanksgiving, which is also all about gratitude, so it has become one of the common symbols of gratitude. 

16. Turkey (Universal)

A turkey.
A turkey as a symbol of gratitude
© Frank Schulenburg

The turkey is another bird that has become synonymous with gratitude due to its popularity on the occasion of thanksgiving. Although a lot of people might not know this, the first Thanksgiving dinner did not actually have any turkey. 

Nevertheless, it is pretty much compulsory these days to have a turkey feast on the table on thanksgiving as it serves as a symbol of abundance, wealth, and gratitude for all that we have. 

The bird reminds us to be grateful and appreciate everything we have. Besides that, turkeys are also associated with harvest and vanity. 

17. Tree of Life (Celts)

Irish Tree of Life.
¸A Celtic symbol for balance / Irish Tree of Life 
Image by AnnaliseArt from Pixabay

If you have had trouble with practicing gratitude daily, you can take inspiration from the Celtic symbol of the Tree of Life.  As its name suggests, the symbol consists of a tree with thick branches spreading all around in a circle and intertwining with the roots of the tree underneath. 

The symbol represents the cycle of life and how the tree may lose its leaves in the winter but manages to sprout new ones in the summer. For the Celtics, the tree also represents strength, wisdom, and gratitude.

Just like how life is a continuous process, so is practicing gratitude. Gratitude and thankfulness need to be felt every day as a crucial part of life. 

18. Heart (Universal)

A heart.
A heart as a symbol of gratitude
Image from piqsels.com

By definition, gratitude is a feeling that comes deep from your heart. It is not something that you can easily fake. It is a sincere and genuine feeling of gratefulness or appreciation towards someone.

That is why one of the symbols used to represent the feeling is a heart symbol. 

It shows our true feelings and emotions. So, when you want to show someone that you are genuinely grateful for their kindness and truly appreciate them from the bottom of your heart, this symbol can be an effective way to send the message across. 

19. Quartz (Universal)

A quartz stone.
Quartz as a symbol of gratitude
Marco Hazard from Hong Kong, Hong Kong, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Precious stones have been used in many different ways according to what they are associated with. The quartz stone specifically is often used to symbolize gratitude and appreciation. When you want to express gratitude, you have to recognize and accept your feelings first.

A quartz stone is perfect for that. It helps clear your mind and lets you see and feel your emotions more clearly. 

Since it helps clarify your emotions, it makes it easy to express gratitude for all that you have in your life. Other than that, if you are specifically feeling thankful for the relationships around you, rose quartz is ideal since it represents unconditional love and appreciation.

A quartz stone also helps enhance wisdom and spirituality. 

20. Hand on Heart (Universal)

hand on chest
Hand on Chest
Image from pexels.com

As mentioned earlier, gratitude is all about sincerity and honesty, and one way to show your sincere intentions and feelings is by placing a hand on your heart.

People usually perform this gesture after a handshake or even a bow to show their sincerity and respect for the person. 

Typically, this gesture symbolizes humility and gratitude and is often seen in Asian countries. It is meant to signify that a person’s feelings are coming right from their heart. 

21. Pink (Universal)

A pink wall.
Pink color as a symbol of gratitude
Image from piqsels.com

As discussed many times previously, different colors and the different shades within them can hold many meanings as well. Red is instantly associated with love while white is often considered a symbol of purity.

Similarly, pink and shades similar to pink are often linked with gratitude and appreciation, specifically for one’s friends.

It is considered the universal color for affection, harmony, and friendship. Since gratitude is all about appreciation and affection, pink is a fitting color to represent the emotion.

So, if you want to express how thankful you are for your friends, pink is a good color to use when sending a message. 

22. Waterfall (Universal)

A waterfall.
A waterfall as a symbol of gratitude
Ilya Grigorik, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Gratitude is not often a small feeling. Most of the time, it can be a very strong emotion that is overwhelming or just bursting out of you. This is why waterfalls are often associated with gratitude as they represent that great rush of emotions, much like the gushing water. 

Waterfalls are also associated with permanence, which can also be similar to feelings of thankfulness that don’t fade away easily with time.

Other than that, in certain cultures, waterfalls can symbolize abundance as well, which ultimately is another reason to be grateful. 

Final Thoughts

It is incredibly important to practice gratitude every day in our lives. It not only helps us recognize and appreciate all that we have, but it also keeps us hopeful for the future and allows us to maintain a positive attitude in life. 

However, on some days, it can be hard to find a reason to be grateful in life. For those days, you can check out this list of the top 23 symbols of gratitude and find some inspiration to feel more thankful in life.

References: 

  1. 28 Meaningful Tattoos that Represent Gratitude. https://cafemom.com/lifestyle/216278-tattoos-that-show-gratitude 
  2. The Best Flowers to Say Thanks. https://www.avasflowers.net/blog/the-best-flowers-to-say-thanks/ 
  3. Gratitude. https://www.spirit-animals.com/animals-by-symbolism/gratitude/ 
  4. Maori Designs – Their Spiritual Meanings. https://www.shopnz.com/blogs/maori-culture/maori-designs-their-spiritual-meaning  
  5. The Top 5 Most Memorable Symbols of Thanksgiving. http://www.thefinestwriter.com/blog/top-5-most-memorable-symbols-of-thanksgiving/ 
  6. Dolphin Symbolism and Meaning. https://www.worldbirds.org/dolphin-symbolism/ 
  7. Quartz Crystal Meaning and Properties. https://www.firemountaingems.com/resources/encyclobeadia/gem-notes/gmstnprprtsrckc