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Expressing Faith

For many of believers their faith is expressed through what is worn. Sometimes the clothes may reflect a cultural influence but often they reflect something important about their religion and are an important particular the believers identity. Many people wear or use symbols to represent their commitment to a particular religion orcultural tradition.

Christianity

The Sign Of the Fish

The sign originated when the early Christians were hiding from from the Romans in the catacombs under rome. They left it scratched on the walls so that other people would know that there were Christians about. It was based on the Greek words for fish, “Icthus”.

Crucifix

Crucifixs, crosses holding the body of Jesus, have been found in Roman Catholic Churches for centuries. More recently, people have also worn them around their neck. They are the reminder of the death of Jesus, although many people simply wear them as a fashion accessory.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army was formed the 1860's and had adopted a uniform that has changed little since. The movement itself as an army - waging a safe on sin and evil wherever it is found and also represents the ideas of order and discipline often found in the military. It is now worldwide. Officers in the Army can now easily be identified immediately by their uniform and this helps greatly when they are working in some of the world's most dangerous areas

Vestments

Vestments are clothes worn in the style of the original Roman clergy by priests in the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches when they are conducting services such as the Eucharist. Each piece of clothing has a specific symbolic meaning.

A Cassock is a black ankle length garment with long narrow sleves which is usually worn under all vestments. Today, bishops wear purple cassocks, while cardinals dress in red and the Pope alone can wear a white one.

The Amice is a fine linen along resting upon his shoulders. It symbolises the blindfold the soldiers put over Our Lord's head.

The alb is a wide linen robe covering the whole body to the feet similar to a roman toga and representing status and dignity. The Cincture, or girdle, is a cord of linen fastened around the waist over the alb and it represents the cord that bound Jesus to the pillar when he was being scouraged.

The Maniple is a strip of silk worn on the priests left arm and represents the rope and chains which bound him.

The Stole is a long band of silk of the same length. It is worn around the neck and crossed on the chest. Worn as it is over the shoulders, it reminds us of the cross thst Jesus, Our Lord, carried.

The Chasuble is the outer and chief vestment of the priest. Imagine a large circular cloth with a hole cut in for the head. It represents the purple cloak worn by Jesus when he stood before Pilate wearing his crown of thorns - being mocked by the Roman soldiers

Different coloured vestments are worn at different times of the year and for different services.

In methodist, United Reformed and Presbyterian Churches, most ministers wear a cassock but in some Nonconformist Churches, most of the ministers only wear dog like collars as it represents a symbol obedience and service. They also wear the ordinary clothes except the vestments.

Judaism

There are four important symbols that express belonging to the Jewish faith.

These are the Kippah, Tallit, Tefillin and The Star of David.

Kippah

Worn mainly during worship, the Kippah is also worn by many Jewish men during their everyday lives. It is a skull cap which fits on the back of the head and is a symbol of respect to God as it covers the part of the body which is nearest to God.

Tallit

This is a prayer shawl which is worn by Jewish men during morning prayers. Attached to each of the four corners of the shawl are fringes that are known as tzizit. There are 613 fringes altogether and those are a reminder to the wearer of the 613 laws which go to make up the law that Moses was given by God on Mount Sinai. A mans tallit is used as a shroud to cover his body when he is buried and the fringes are cut off to show that he no longer needs to keep the commandments.

Tefillin

Jewish males over the age of 13 wear a tefillin at morning prayers each day except on the Sabbath Day and festivals. Boys usually start wearing them a few weeks before their Bar Mitzvah to practise putting them on properly. The tefillin is made up of two small leather boxes, one worn on the upper left arm and the other on the forehead. Inside the boxes are two small parchment scrolls containing four passages from the Jewish scriptures - including the Shema. The one on the arm is close to the heart as a reminder that he must love God with all his emotions. The one on the forehead is a reminder that God must be served with the mind.

Star of David

Many Jews wear the Star of David or Magen David, around their necks as a sign that they belong to the Jewish faith. While the Star of David has been accepted as a universal symbol of the faith, nobody knows where and what the origin is and where it came from. It is generally found in most synagogues usually on a flag of Israel and was a symbol that Jews were forced to wear as identification for the nazis to recognise people were Jews, both back in the middle ages and during the nazi holocaust.

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