If you’ve been to a festival or rave, chances are you’ve seen a festival totem. These are the colorful flags, sculptures, and signs that people use to identify themselves and their groups. But did you know that totems have a long and rich history in festivals and celebrations around the world?
Totems were originally used by Indigenous peoples, particularly those in North America and Africa. Native American tribes used totems to represent their families, clans, and spiritual beliefs. The totem pole is perhaps the most well-known example of Native American totems, which feature animals, humans, and other symbols representing the tribe’s history and mythology. African tribes used totems in much the same way, often featuring animals or other symbols representing the tribe’s spiritual beliefs.
In modern times, festival totems have become a popular way for festival-goers to identify themselves and their groups. The first modern festival totems are believed to have originated at Burning Man, an annual event in the Nevada desert that started in 1986. Burning Man attendees began bringing totems to help them find their friends and camp sites in the vast, dusty landscape.
Since then, festival totems have become a staple of the festival experience. They come in all shapes and sizes, from simple flags to elaborate sculptures. They often feature humorous or clever messages, pop culture references, or political statements. Some festival-goers decorate their totems with lights, glitter, or other embellishments to make them more eye-catching.
Festival totems are not just a visual spectacle; they also serve a practical purpose. In crowded festival environments, it can be difficult to find your friends or camp site. Totems help groups stay together and make it easier to locate each other in the crowds. They can also be a helpful way to find your way back to your own camp site after wandering around the festival grounds.
At Wicked Woods, we’ve seen some incredible festival totems over the years. One of our favorites is the “Gluten Free Hugs” totem. It’s a clever and hilarious play on words, and it always puts a smile on our faces when we see it. We love our celiac friends, and will gladly give and receive gluten free hugs all day every day.
Another one of our favorite totems is the “Mad Beets” totem, which features giant illustrated beets with the cutest little angry beet faces wearing sunglasses. It’s a fun and whimsical totem that perfectly captures the playful spirit of Wicked Woods and we’re absolutely obsessed.
One of our all time favorites is the infamous giant wooden spoon carried by the one-and-only Rubix. It’s just that, a giant wooden spoon, and it brings us so much joy when we see it gleefully bobbing in the crowd or accompanying him on stage for an epic hip-hop performance.
We can’t neglect to mention the gorgeous Umbrella Jellyfish that swim through the crowds, gracing us with their beautiful flowing tentacles. Whether it’s a spoon, a jellyfish, some mad beets, or a giant “Full Send” sign, we love seeing your creativity, so keep it coming!
Festival totems have a long and fascinating history that spans across cultures and time periods. From their origins in Indigenous cultures to their modern-day use as a way to stay connected and show off your creativity, totems have become an essential part of the festival experience. How will you stand out in the crowd this Wicked Woods? Be sure to bring a totem that represents you and your group. Who knows, you might just become a festival legend like the Umbrella Jellyfish, Giant Wooden Spoon, Gluten Free Hugs, Full Send, or Mad Beets!