Have you ever found a whole sand dollar on the beach? Lots of folks look for them, but it’s a treasure when you find one still intact.
Sand dollars are actually burrowing sea urchins. When they wash up on the beach and are bleached by the sun, they look like a large silver coin, hence the moniker.
A legend about these creatures says they represent the story of Christ:
On the top of the shell is a symbol that looks like a star, a reminder of the Star of Bethlehem that led wise men to the Christ Child. Around the star is an outline of an Easter lily, a reminder of the Lord’s resurrection.
There are five holes in a sand dollar – four around the ends of the star and one in the center. According to the religious legend, the four holes represent the four wounds of Christ when his hands and feet were nailed to the cross. The center hole represents the wound made from a soldier’s spear.
When you turn over the sand dollar, you see the outline of a poinsettia, the Christmas flower. And if you break open a sand dollar, five dove-shaped pieces emerge. Doves are often used in art and literature as a symbol of peace and goodwill.
Now you know the legend of the sand dollar, a story of hope and peace. See if you can find one on your next visit to Alabama beaches.