I thought this would be relatively easy! No such luck. This was a
hard task, primarily because native cultures appear to attach far more
symbolism to objects and creatures than one or two words.
The only symbol for joy or happiness that came up repeatedly in my
searches that also had ties to Native cultures was the hummingbird.
Unfortunately, although I found several snippets regarding the
hummingbird and it's relation to happiness, I could find no
Several Pennsylvania Dutch Hex signs are also quite applicable to joy
and happiness. I have included a book reference from Amazon in case
you want to verify their meanings in more detail.
Jewel of the Gods. Symbol of beauty and joy. The bird of lovers. Native American.
A hummingbird medallian
"Hummingbird's Wisdom Includes: Ability to heal by using light.
Endurance over long journeys. Ability to fly into small places to
heal. Joy. Happiness. Love."
From Native American Mythology
"An Apache legend tells of Wind Dancer, a young warrior, who was born
deaf, but could sing magical, wordless songs that brought healing and
good weather. He married Bright Rain, a beautiful, young woman whom he
rescued when she was being attacked by a wolf. Wind Dancer was killed
during another errand of mercy. A bitter, death-bring winter ensued,
but it suddenly and mysteriously ended after Bright Rain started
taking solitary walks.
Tribal elders learned Wind Dancer had come back to her in the form of
a hummingbird. He wore the same ceremonial costume and war paint he
had worn as a man. In fields of spring flowers he would approach her
and whisper his magical secrets in her ear.
"This brought her peace and joy."
From "HUMMINGBIRD KACHINAS & TOTEMS
A "totem" is a picture, carving, or other rendering of an animal (or
plant) used by Native Americans as a symbolic representation of an
attribute or behavior. The emblem for a clan or tribe is often a totem
that in some supernatural way watches over its members.
"The hummingbird totem represents beauty, how to heal with flowers,
laughter, and enjoyment and protection of the environment."
Hummingbird - Love and Joy
"In many - even ancient - traditions, hummingbird feathers have been
prized for their almost magical qualities. It is said that Hummingbird
brings love as no other medicine can. Hummingbird is loved by the
flowers and plants, for as it sucks the nectar from the flower, the
plant reproduces and more of its kind are created. Its presence brings
joy to the observer watching it move upward, downward, backward,
forward or simply hovering in one place. Whatever its delicate antics,
the Creator must surely be pleased with this magnificant creation."
Other animal spirits
"The Tsimshian believe the Hummingbird to be a joyful messenger and
mysterious traveler. If he appears during a time of great sorrow and
pain, healing will soon follow. He also symbolizes the fragility of
nature and all living things. His symbol is often used in gifts that
come with wishes of joy, healing and love."
"The Hummingbird is one of the less common motifs used by the
Northwest Coast peoples, but one of the more delicate. It is marked by
its long down-curving bill. We offer a number of pieces of jewelry
depicting the hummingbird, designed by Danny Dennis, a Tsimshian from
Kitwanga in British Columbia."
From ANIMAL SYMBOLISM - MANY CULTURES
Additional Native American Symbolism (many duplicates):
"Hummingbird--Messenger, stopper of time. Hummingbird represents
optimism and sweetness. Being able to roll with the punches is an
attribute of Hummingbird."
Hummingbird: messenger, timelessness
Hummingbird - "the tiniest of all birds - brings special messages for
us. It is the only creature that can stop dead while traveling at full
speed. It can hover, or can go forward, backward, up or down. It lives
on nectar and searches for the sweetness of life. Its long tongue lets
it bypass the often tough and bitter outer layer to find the hidden
treasures underneath. Hummingbird is loved by the flowers and plants,
for as it sucks the nectar from the flower, the plant reproduces and
more of its kind are created. In many traditions, Hummingbird feathers
have been prized for their almost magical qualities.
It is said that Hummingbird brings love as no other medicine can, and
its presence brings joy to the observer."
The Sun Symbol
The Native American Sun symbols also implies happiness:
Sun Symbols - happiness
(If you wanted to order an item for your friend, I think it would be
best to call the store and ask them what items they might have with
The Sun Symbols are also noted for happiness here:
(references - http://www.geocities.com/ctesibos/symbols/biblio.html)
From HEX Signs and their Meanings
"German settlers brought their old world customs or traditions to
Pennsylvania over 300 years ago. They are now known as the
Pennsylvania Dutch. Farmers decorated their barns with large, colorful
geometric patterns. These symbols called hex signs, had meanings or
Distelfink - good luck and happiness
Two distelfinks - double good luck and happiness
Oak Leaf - long life, strength and endurance
From "Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs."
"The Triple Star motif symbolizes good luck, success and happiness.
The ring of brown is associated with the cycle of life making this
particular sign a wish for a lifetime of happiness."
"The Distlefink was the good luck bird of the Pennsylvania Germans. It
actually was a stylized version of the goldfinch. The goldfinch eats
thistle seed and uses thistle down for its nest and was called a
thistlefinch from which comes the Pennsylvania Dutch "Distelfink. This
single distelfink sign is a symbol of good luck and happiness. The
heart adds a measure of love and the tulips faith."
Oak Leaf (perhaps you could consider this applicable to health)
"The Oak Leaf or Mighty Oak is made up of four oak leaves in bold
colors radiating from the center. The Oak symbolizes strenth in body,
mind and character. The four colors of the leaves symbolize the
seasons of life and the wavy border in the outer ring symbolizes
smooth sailing in life."
The following site also ascribes meanings to the following hex signs:
(Unfortunately, the links don't work!)
The Oak Leaf (Strength),
The Triple Star (Success, Wealth and Happiness)
The Distlefink (Good Luck and Happiness)
To read further about Hex signs:
Hex Signs: Pennsylvania Dutch Barn Symbols & Their Meaning (Paperback)
by Don Yoder, Thomas E. Grave
Hex Gift sources:
Cane and Reed
PaDutchCulture.com Hex Signs - Mighty Oak
Here is one possible gift from Amazon:
Here is a source of Hex gifts, but the catalog link does not work. You
will need to give them a call.
I hope these suggestions have given you some ideas. If there is any
other way I can help, or you would like me to expand my search to some
other symbols, please don't hesitate to ask.
symbols OR images for health OR happiness OR joy
native american symbols for health OR happiness OR joy
American Indian symbols for health OR happiness OR joy
American symbols health happiness joy
native american symbols
meaning of Native american symbols
hummingbird native american symbol
Native american sun symbols
Hex signs and symbols