At Old World Stoneworks, we love to decorate our mantels. With the 2016 Olympics nearly upon us, it’s the perfect time to show your Olympic spirit with a special mantel display. Here are a few ideas for an in-home homage to this beloved global extravaganza.
Symbols of the Olympics
Torch from the Seoul Olympics, 1988
The Olympic Games trace their history back about 3,000 years to ancient Greece, where they were held every four years at Olympia. In 1896, this tradition was revived in Athens, and included 43 events, 280 athletes and 13 countries. This year in Rio, athletes from 206 countries will compete in 306 events while the whole world watches.
You can use symbols of the Olympics to make a fun and educational mantel display. Consider including:
- An olive branch – In the ancient Olympics, the winner of each event received an olive branch
- A picture or flag depicting the Olympic rings – these five interlocking rings of blue, yellow, black green and red signify equality and represent Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australasia and Europe. A flag showing the rings is carried during the opening ceremony, and passed on to the next host nation during closing.
- The Olympic torch – A flame burned in a cauldron during the ancient Olympic games. Since 1936, runners have carried a torch in various forms of relay, timed to finish with the opening ceremony. Souvenir makers manufacture little commemorative torches for each Olympics.
- Olympic medals – Toy Olympic medals also make a great addition to your Olympic mantel. Combine bronze, silver and gold for color contrast, or just go for the gold.
- Doves – The tradition of releasing doves during the opening ceremony dates back to the 1920 games in Antwerp, Belgium. This was the first Olympic Games held after World War One. Doves were released as a sign of peace.
- Olympic motto – Drape a banner with the Olympic motto across your mantel. “Citius, Altius, Fortius” means “Swifter, Higher, Stronger.”
Your Favorite Sport
Many folks have a favorite Olympic sport. Gymnastics, swimming, track and field and beach volleyball are perennial crowd pleasers. If you’re passionate about a particular sport, decorate your mantel with its accoutrements. If you’re really crafty, a diorama of a mini beach volleyball court would be darling. Or you can go simple, with, say, a racket, tennis ball, photo of Serena Williams and a mini Olympic flag.
Olympics gymnastics photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/28951908@N07/7782242090/in/photolist-cRG2rL-xgjps-5wen7d-cDnJ2N-cDnJ8J-6u1Q1E-4zDnRs-4ZPxEm-cDnJ5Q-4ZKjyP-cDnJ4q-dAaLBN-ssSt5U-5oZAHp-5LbpEv-cMhxbh-dAaMQY-cFCg6h-dAaL1L-cGY54U-7KSa1B-8tRJQm-e6a8vM-8vureT-axxHPU-8vfh4a-xgiDS-7KUt6R-8vfikc-8v3CvQ-7KZZDc-xgiDQ-cMykTu-8vuu7r-5vSui3-okFyEJ-diJhRS-8vupnx-7KW8LS-xgiDL-8tNEq8-8vutfc-diJkGr-5R78F9-cznhGj-nBEzrM-qnqZmP-5ZVRHj-dA5ihc-cKZQdG
General Olympic Sports
Maybe you have a household of sports fans, each obsessed with a different sport. No problem. There’s room on the mantel for water polo, kayaking, judo and equestrian. Include a piece of sporting equipment or a depiction of each sport, such as a toy canoe or horse. Using some of the symbols above, like medals or the Olympic flag, will tie your mantel together so that it makes sense to visitors.
If you have a favorite athlete, decorate the mantel to celebrate him or her. Perhaps you love to see Usain Bolt blaze around the track in the 100-meter, or Michael Phelps turn water into gold. Or you might be rooting for a history maker, such as fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who in Rio will be the first U.S. athlete to compete in the Olympics while wearing a Muslim headscarf. Photos, memorabilia and equipment or toys depicting your favorite athlete’s sport will make an inspiring mantel display.
Usain Bolt at the 2008 Beijing Olympics
Single Country Mantel
Feeling patriotic? Honor as many US stars as will fit on your mantel. Line their portraits up (you can cut them out of magazines or print them from the internet), add an Olympic flag and a “Citius, Altius, Fortius” banner, and you’re set. Of course, if you have a soft spot for another country – perhaps you or your parents or your great-greats immigrated to the US from elsewhere – you could set up your mantel around Ireland, Jamaica or wherever. Or you could dedicate your mantel to an underdog, such as Bangladesh, Ghana or Lebanon, some of the countries who have historically won the fewest medals.
Your friends at Old World Stoneworks wish you lots of happy Olympic Games watching. If decorating your mantel makes you realize it’s time for an update, give us a call.