Symbols of the Commonwealth
Virginia State Beverage.
In 1982, the General Assembly adopted milk as the state beverage. Milk is a nourishing beverage that is also the source of butter, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.
Virginia State Bird.
In 1950, the General Assembly chose the northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) as the state bird because of its bright plumage and cheerful song. In eighteenth-century England, the cardinal was called "the Virginia nightingale." The cardinal is part of the finch family.
Virginia State Boat.
In 1988, the Chesapeake Bay deadrise was adopted as the official boat of the Commonwealth. The Chesapeake Bay deadrise is a wooden boat with a sharp bow, a tiny cabin, and a long cockpit. It can operate nearly everywhere on the bay for crabbing, oystering, and fishing.
Virginia State Dog.
In 1966, the American fox hound became the state dog. George Washington imported fox hounds into Virginia for hunting purposes. All fox hounds are descendants of these dogs. The American fox hound is also one of four breeds of American origin, the other three originating in other states. The American fox hound is a medium-sized hound trained to hunt foxes.
Virginia State Fish.
In 1993, the official fish became the brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). The brook trout is of the salmon family. It survives only in clear, cold water and populates the mountain rivers and streams of Virginia.
Virginia State Flower.
In 1918, the state floral emblem commonly known as the American dogwood (Cornus florida) was adopted. It was selected to foster a feeling of pride in our state and to stimulate an interest in the history and traditions of the Commonwealth.
Virginia State Folk Dance.
In 1991, the General Assembly adopted the square dance as the state folk dance. Square dancing is the American folk dance which traces its ancestry to the English country dance and the French ballroom dance. It is called, cued, or prompted to the dancers. It includes squares, rounds, clogging, contra, line, the Virginia reel, and heritage dances.
Virginia State Folklore Center for the Blue Ridge.
Blue Ridge Institute and Museum, Ferrum College was designated the State Center for Blue Ridge Folklore by the Virginia General Assembly in 1986.
Virginia State Fossil.
In 1993, the General Assembly adopted the Chesapecten jeffersonius as the state fossil. This fossil was the first discovered in North America. It was named for Thomas Jefferson because of his interest in natural history. The fossil also celebrates the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the world.
Virginia State Insect.
In 1991, the tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus linne) was adopted as the state insect. It is easily identified by its yellow and black, tiger-striped wings and dark tail. It is one of the most common and conspicuous butterflies of the eastern United States.
Virginia State Motto.
Sic Semper Tyrannis
, Thus Always to Tyrants, the Virginia State Motto, adopted in 1776, appears on the State Seal, symbolizing victory over tyranny.
Virginia State Shell.
In 1974, the General Assembly adopted the oyster (Crassostraea virginica) as the state shell. The oyster lives on the water bottom or adheres to rock in shallow water.
Virginia State Song.
Carry Me Back to Old Virginny
was written by a black minstrel, James Bland, in the 1800s and has been Virginia's state song since 1940. On January 28, 1997, the Virginia Senate voted 24-15 to designate
Carry Me Back to Old Virginny
as state song "emeritus" and directed a
to come up with a new state song.
to hear the Virginia State Song.
Virginia State Tree.
.In 1956, the state adopted the American dogwood as the official tree. The dogwood is well distributed throughout the Commonwealth, and its beauty is symbolic of the many attractive features of Virginia. The dogwood blooms in early spring and its blossom is a tiny cluster of flowers surrounded by four white leaves that look like petals.
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