Snails in Culture

Snails in Culture

Land Snails in Popular Culture

The main contribution of snails to the culture of several civilizations, has been their inclusion in their food.

Land snails don’t seem to have a good stigma to them in many cultures due to the fact that they are slow. Most people associate that nature with being lazy and not good for much. The fact that the snail isn’t a lovely animal either means that it gets overlooked when it comes to art and other types of cultural remnants.

Snails are more intelligent though than many people realize. There are stories that depict them as being very strong and self reliant. Those are traits that most people would love to have. The moral of such stories is to explain even though the snail is slow it has a purpose just like every other creature out there. Yet the fact that they aren’t mystical or beautiful has lead to more stories and cultures viewing them as something bad or evil.

In fact, with many early cultures the movements of the snail were viewed as being unclean and they often even marked people with it as a sign of punishment. Yet you will find some great early writings about the snails. For example the Greeks believed that when the snails could be seen climbing the stalks it was time for the harvest to begin. This was a signal to them that it was time to reap the rewards of the foods the gods had allowed them to grow and to live from.

The Aztec believed that the snail was the moon god and that the shell was his protection. They also felt that the appearing of the snail at times and then not at others had to do with the meaning of the rebirth of the moon. Of course we now know that this has to do with them being nocturnal and searching for food at night instead of during the daylight hours.

Most of us are familiar with the works of psychologist Carl Jung. He often talked about interpreting thoughts and dreams. The analogy he refers to with snails is that the shell is the conscious thought process and then the soft part of a snail is the unconscious thought process. Not everyone buys this theory though but the analogy is one that many continue to use today.

There are quite a few references in our language today that refer to snails, but they aren’t in good light. They are meant to mean a very slow process. For example saying someone moves as the pace of a snail or that they are as slow as a snail. The other is called snail mail which refers to mailing something through the post office. We get used to e-mail which allows us instant access so we then become impatient with what takes longer to receive.

Sometimes you will notice snails in books or movies with characteristics that are quite charming. The Disney productions are great at doing this and the charm they put into them helps people to enjoy these animals more. However, they still don’t seem to get the attention or the accreditation in society as so many others.

I mean, when was the last time you saw a business using a snail as their logo? They want to give an image that people relate to in a positive manner. Unfortunately the snail just doesn’t happen to be one of them that fit into that category.  If you can come up with some creative ideas though you may be the one that is able to help change some of the mindsets that people have relating to snails in culture.