Forget actual dollars and any sense. Right now, we are in the thick of what Fast Company has termed “The Unicorn Economy”. I see it at home, as gold glitter cascades from my living room table across the rug and smears of color are all over my kitchen counters, looking like, well, a unicorn crime scene. My daughter is completely into two major trends of the day: Unicorns and slime, which are best combined into Unicorn Slime. The Unicorn Basket at her school carnival was the most hotly contested prize of the day, with the most bids by far of any other basket. She purchased an instant unicorn collection at a garage sale, requested two Fluffy the Unicorns at Universal (vetoed), was an early adopter of the Unicorn Frappuccino, and was recently gifted a Unicorn Hot Chocolate kit, which has roughly 4 times the amount of sugar per cup of one can of Coke (Thanks, Aunt Sharon!). The trend is not just limited to little girls, however.
According the Fast Company article, “Right now, the best way to sell American millennial women anything vaguely shiny, glittery, or colorful is to “unicornify” it.” First, though, it is helpful to find the “why” behind the trend. Fast Company interviewed Diana Peterfreund, the author of TWO books on unicorns. She clarified: “To people here in America in the 21st century, what we think of the most when it comes to unicorns is the sparkly part. We don’t think of hooves or horns or virgins… Unicorns are now inextricable from rainbows.” As I sit here preparing for the start of Lent next week, it occurred to me: what better way to get young people, specifically young women, interested in Lent than to “unicornify” it?
It might not be so far-fetched as you think. There are whole websites devoted to unicorns in the bible. Were there actually unicorns? I think much of the confusion is a “Lost in Translation” issue. Where some Bibles use “unicorn”, others refer to “wild oxen”. Evidently, the Hebrew word “re’em,” has been translated as a wild ox, aurochs, unicorn, rhinoceros, or wild bull (per Catholic Encyclopedia (C.E.), s.v. “Animals in the Bible”). However, the use of the unicorn as a Christian symbol of Jesus is well-documented and reached its high-point in the Middle Ages. There is no specific mention of “sparkle” anywhere, but don’t lose hope.
Rainbows definitely get a mention in the Bible. After the flood in Genesis the rainbow is seen as a symbol of hope, mercy, and love in the covenant God made with Noah: “I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth,” Gen 9-13. This is even set to be part if the reading for the first Sunday of Lent this year? Coincidence? I think not. Some translations of Revelation 4:3 read “And there was a rainbow round about the throne.” Some translations just refer to this as a jewel-colored halo. Tomay-to, tomah-to, I say. Arguably, the first and last books of the Bible contain rainbows, so maybe today’s youth has stumbled on to something.
To me, this makes perfect sense with today’s Millennial mind-set linking rainbows and unicorns. If unicorns symbolize Christ and rainbows symbolize God’s covenant to us, aren’t both symbols linked together the perfect symbol of the Lenten season? Christ’s sacrifice fulfilling God’s New Covenant with us? It’s time the Church took back these symbols and used them to capture a whole new audience. It would stand to reason that Millennials would love Lent — they just have to add the sparkle!
I know Lent, a season of repentance, can seem dark and be a turn-off to many. I think it is easy to fall into the trap of repentance without joy, sorrow without meaning. However, I think if we approach Lent with a unicorn spirit and keep the promise of joy at Easter in focus, it will be a positive experience that ends with a rainbow. Glitter optional.