Souvenir

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A Souvenir stall in London, England

A souvenir (from French, for a remembrance or memory),[1] memento, keepsake, or token of remembrance[1] is an object a person acquires for the memories the owner associates with it. The term souvenir brings to mind the mass-produced kitsch that is the main commodity of souvenir and gift shops in many tourist attractions around the world. But a souvenir can be any object that can be collected or purchased and transported home by the traveler. The object itself has no real significance other than the psychological connection the possessor has with the object as a symbol of past experience. Without the owner's input, the object's meaning is invisible and cannot be articulated.[2]

Souvenirs as objects[edit]

The tourism industry designates tourism souvenirs as commemorative merchandise associated with a location, often including geographic information and usually produced in a manner that promotes souvenir collecting. Throughout the world, souvenir trade is an important part of the tourism industry serving a dual role, first to help improve the local economy, and second to allow visitors to take with them a memento of their visit, ultimately to encourage an opportunity for a return visit, or to promote the locale to other tourists as a form of word-of-mouth marketing.[3] Perhaps the most collected souvenirs by tourists are photographs as a medium to document specific events and places for future reference.[2]

Souvenirs as objects include mass-produced merchandise such as clothing: T-shirts and hats; collectables: postcards, refrigerator magnets, miniature figures; household items: mugs, bowls, plates, ashtrays, egg timers, spoons, notepads, plus many others.

Souvenirs also include non-mass-produced items like local artisan crafts, objects that represent the traditions and culture of the area, non-commercial, natural objects like sand from a beach, and anything else that a person attaches nostalgic value to and collects among his personal belongings.[4]

A more grisly form of souvenir in the First World War was displayed by a Pathan soldier to an English Territorial. After carefully studying the Tommy's acquisitions (a fragment of shell, a spike and badge from a German helmet), he produced a cord with the ears of enemy soldiers he claimed to have killed. He was keeping them to take back to India for his wife.[5]

Souvenirs as memorabilia[edit]

Similar to souvenirs, memorabilia (Latin for memorable (things), plural of memorābile) are objects treasured for their memories; however, unlike souvenirs, memorabilia are valued for a connection to an event. Examples include sporting events, historical events, culture, and entertainment. Such items include clothing, game equipment, publicity photographs, posters, entertainment-related merchandise, movie memorabilia, and pins amongst other, often-licensed, items that are usually kept in display cases to preserve its condition.

Souvenir Album of Houston, 1891


Souvenirs as gifts[edit]

In Japan, souvenirs are known as meibutsu (products associated with a particular region); and omiyage, candies or other edibles to be shared with co-workers. Omiyage sales are big business at Japanese tourist sites.[6]

Travelers may buy souvenirs as gifts for those who did not make the trip.

See also[edit]

References[edit]