start typing and results will show

or press esc

The pansy has a historic association with humanism and freethought, its name deriving from the French ‘pensée’ meaning ‘to think’. While today, the happy human is the international symbol of humanism, various groups and individuals over time – and across the world – have worn pansies to display their belief in thinking for themselves in matters of religion. This has been the case from at least the late 19th century. In 1890, The Freethinker reported the pansy as being the symbol of freethought in France, having been used the year earlier in an international conference of freethinkers in Paris, and it gained popularity in America too. Some decades later, writer, activist, and humanist Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner reported identifying fellow attendees of the International Freethought Congress in Prague by their pansies. During a time when the public expression of humanist convictions might risk scorn or judgement, she was inspired by these visible displays, and hopeful for the future of freethinkers at home. In the pages of The Literary Guide (now the New Humanist), she wrote:

We reached Prague about half-an-hour after midnight, and there found, awaiting the arrival of the train, four young men wearing the pansy (the single pansy, “la libre pensée,” has long been the recognized symbol for Freethought all over the Continent) and the Congress badge… To see the Congress badge and the pansy worn openly in the streets by hundreds of persons, to be openly received by the President of the State, to be publicly welcomed by the Mayor of the city, to have Ministers identifying themselves with the aims of the Congress, and women Members of Parliament addressing the meetings, provoked comparisons with conditions in our own country. If Czecho-Slovakia can rise to these heights of liberty, why not Great Britain ?

Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner, ‘The Eighteenth International Freethought Congress at Prague’ in The Literary Guide, November 1920

Read more

Pansy of Freethought | Leicester Secular Society

Made by Heritage Creative