Frogs are charming little amphibians which are widely beloved for their cuteness, for the chirps, ribbits, and croaks which they are known to sing out, and for their association with the spring and summer seasons. From beloved characters like Kermit the Frog to classic fairytales like The Frog Prince, frogs very clearly occupy a very special place in the hearts and storytelling traditions of human cultures around the world.
In this article, we’ll look at the symbolism of the frog as well as its role in a number of myths and folk stories from a wide variety of cultures!
Table of contents
- Frog Symbolism and meaning
- Frog Native American Symbolism
- Frog Eastern Symbolism
- Frog Christianity Symbolism
- Frog Celtic Symbolism
- Frog African Symbolism
- Frog in Dreams
- Frog Encounters and Omens
- Frog’ Mythology and Folklore
- Frog Spirit Animal
- Frog Totem Animal
- Frog Power Animal
- Frog Tattoo Meaning
Frog symbolism and meaning
One of the major things that frogs symbolize is transformation and change. Frogs are born in the water as eggs which hatch into tadpoles. Tadpoles are aquatic and limbless, but with time and nourishment, tadpoles grow legs and begin to look and act like frogs. The tadpole represents youth, immaturity, and potential. Frogs represent growth, experience, and wisdom.
The frog’s life cycle is connected with the cycles of life on earth. Frog life cycles are often used as teaching tools to help children understand the ways that life cycles work within nature. Like humans, frogs are born as small helpless things which grow and change until they are mature enough to produce babies of their own which continue this circle of life. (1)
Because frogs tend to disappear during the cold winter months and reemerge in springtime, frogs are very often connected with spring, renewal, and rebirth. Furthermore, the frog is able to travel between land and water and is sometimes associated with supernatural forces which transition between worlds. Frogs are very often connected with mystical things such as witches and fairyfolk.
On the subject of fairies, frogs are very common characters within fairytales. In many old fairytales, a girl who encounters a frog must kiss him to break the curse which binds the human prince trapped within the body of a frog. These myths connect frogs with royalty and with romance. This myth is the origin of the idiom that states that “you have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince.” This idiom likens frogs with failed connections or “duds.” A frog can represent suitors, the dating process, or the idea of not judging a book by its cover. (2)
Frog Native American symbolism
Perhaps, again, because frogs tend to appear during springtime, or perhaps because they dwell in the water, many Native American tribes connect the frog with the coming of rain. For this reason, the frog is typically an auspicious character who symbolizes renewal, growth, and revitalization. For some tribes, the frog is a powerful medicine animal. (3)
In some Native American traditions, the bullfrog was said to be a smaller form of a once gigantic monster. The Passamaquody, for example, believe that their culture hero, Glooscap, once had to fight this giant bullfrog in order to free the people. According to legend, Glooscap came to a village one day asking for water. The people of the village explained that their river was dry because a monstrous bullfrog was damming it up and hoarding the fresh water for himself. The monster demanded young girls become his servants in exchange for water. Glooscap was furious and he fought the beast. When he slew the monster, it became a water serpent which he clubbed to death. Finally, Glooscap defeated the monster which became the small bullfrogs which populate waterways today but can do no harm. (4)
The Penobscot and Maliseet tribes have a legend of a lake monster that dried up a river and generated drought. In the end, the hero saves the lands by turning the monster into a bullfrog.
According to Cree legend, Rabbit and Frog are husband and wife. Rabbit is cowardly, but Frog encourages him to face his fears and hunt for food. One day, Rabbit found a beaver lodge, but he was too scared to enter it. When he told Frog, she jumped into the water and swam under the lodge to slay the beavers. In the end, though, Rabbit did not want to share the beaver meat with Frog, even though she had caught the beavers. Frog had to threaten him by calling out to Owl. In each episode of the story, Rabbit fails to act, but Frog is brave and clever and provides for them. Finally, a cannibal attacks their camp and Frog and Rabbit both try to hide. The cannibal finds Rabbit’s hiding place, because he hides in some food which the cannibal wants to eat. Frog is smart, though, and burrows into the ground to escape. (5)
Frog Eastern Symbolism
In China, frogs are associated with wealth, prosperity, immortality, and greed. According to one legend, the wife of one of the “Eight Immortals,” which are a group of celestial beings, tried to steal a peach from the heavens. The woman was punished for her greed by being transformed into a frog. In this form, she is often depicted with three legs, a coin in her mouth, and resting on a bed of coins. Peaches symbolize longevity and immortality, so this figure, called the “Money Frog,” is connected with both of these ideas. It is sometimes believed that frogs bring good fortune and wealth wherever they go. It is common for storefronts to feature Money Frogs as a superstition to attract success. (6)
In Japan, the word for frog, “kaeru,” is pronounced the same way as the word for “return” or “come home.” So, frogs are associated with homecomings and are thought to represent good luck and safety for travelers. Frog charms are often given to loved ones in the hopes that these will help them to find their way back to their homes and families. (7)
Frog Christianity symbolism
In the Bible, frogs are chiefly connected with the tale of Moses and the Exodus of the Hebrews. In Exodus 8, Moses warns the pharaoh of Egypt that if he does not free the Hebrews then God will unleash a plague of frogs upon him:
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, `This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs. The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. The frogs will go up on you and your people and all your officials.'” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, `Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.'” So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land. But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt. Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.” Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.” “Tomorrow,” Pharaoh said. Moses replied, “It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God. The frogs will leave you and your houses, your officials and your people; they will remain only in the Nile.” After Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, Moses cried out to the Lord about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. And the Lord did what Moses asked. The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields. They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them.”— Exodus 8:1-15 (8)
So, frogs represent both the power and wrath of God. Although the plague of frogs was terrible and frightening, it was all a part of God’s plan to free the Hebrews. The frogs were used to warn the pharaoh of God’s power, but he would not listen and his people suffered plagues far worse than frogs on account of his obstinance. (9)
Frog Celtic symbolism
Frogs play somewhat unusual roles in much of Celtic traditions. In Ireland, the frog is a creature at the center of some controversy. For centuries, it has been insisted that there are no native frogs in Ireland and that all frogs have been introduced to the island by way of outsiders. This appears to be somewhat unlikely, but debate rages on over whether Ireland has native frogs and which species these might be. Thanks to the tumultuous history of Ireland, frogs have come to represent the countless invasions and colonizations by outsiders to which the island has been subjected over the centuries. (10)
In some Celtic traditions, frogs have been connected with folk remedies, healing, and prediction Frogs were thought to change colors when rain was near and were used to foretell future conditions. Furthermore, placing a live frog in one’s mouth was thought to cure toothaches and whooping cough. (11)
Frog African symbolism
In Egypt, the frog is connected with fecundity, fertility, birth, and renewal. It is thought that, perhaps, the frog gained this reputation thanks to the annual flooding of the Nile. In Egypt, much of life depended upon the Nile’s waters. Each year when these waters surged, frogs would multiply en masse. So, the frog may have come to be associated with the cycles of these life-giving waters. This association was so prevalent and strong that the Egyptians even depicted one of their oldest deities, a goddess or fertility named Heqet, as a human with the head of a frog. Amulets in the shape of frogs are commonly found amongst Egyptian artifacts and are thought to have been fertility charms. (12)
According to one myth from Africa, the frog is a creature which originated form the sad story of a pair of abused children. According to this legend, there once was a brother and sister whose mother regularly beat them and blamed them for everything that bothered her. One day, the children conspired to run away from their mother and live together in the woods. The children escaped, and their mother searched high and low for them. She regretted treating them poorly and begged the earth and trees to tell her where they had gone. The children refused to come out, but there was no warmth or food for them in the forest. Before long, the two children died of exposure. Their mother found them at last and begged for a second chance. Although the children could not be brought back as humans, they were restored to life as frogs. In this form, the children croak a mournful wail which represents their grief for the way they were treated. (13)(14)
Frog in dreams
Dreaming of frogs represents rejuvenation and growth. To dream of a frog means that one is likely to enter a period of rapid change and that embracing these changes is likely the only way forward.
A frog dream might also indicate good luck or prosperity. Frog dreams often indicate that good fortune and success awaits on the horizon.
Dreaming of a tadpole might indicate youth or immaturity. A tadpole dream might be telling you to take your time and not get ahead of yourself. IT is important to wait until you are ready and experienced before tackling certain challenges. Everything comes within its proper time.
Frog encounters and omens
A frog encounter is usually an omen of success or fertility. Where careers and finance are concerned, a frog encounter might indicate a sudden windfall on the horizon. Frog encounters indicate that the time is ripe to take a leap and aim for success.
For growing families, a frog encounter symbolizes fertility and may indicate that a pregnancy is on the horizon.
A frog encounter might also symbolize the importance of giving people a chance. If you were to judge everyone you meet by their appearance than you might find that you would miss out on the beauty and uniqueness of individuals’ personalities. Remember the story of the “Frog Prince” which tells us that showing kindness and respect to people allows them to show us their best selves. (15)
Frog mythology and folklore
According to one Japanese folktale, two frogs set out from the faraway cities of Osaka and Kyoto. The two frogs set out on the same paths from different ends at the same time. Neither frog had met before, but both of them faced similar perils on the road and were thoroughly exhausted by the time they met each other at the halfway point between their two cities. At this point, both frogs were not sure if it was worthwhile to continue and they each expressed a wish to be taller so that they could see down the road and decide if the visit was worth making. The frogs decided to stand on their hindlegs and stretch their bodies whilst holding each other for support. What they forgot, though, was that their eyes rest on the tops of their heads. As they were stretching, each frog was looking backwards at his own hometown without realizing it. So, the frogs decided that since their towns looked the same, the journey was not worth making. They returned home none the wiser. (16)
Many people believe that frogs are a source of warts and that handling a frog can give the handler warts. This is not true, but it is a shockingly common superstition.
The Olmec believe that the frog is a god of rebirth who consumes his own skin in a never-ending cycle of birth and destruction. (17)
The Aesop’s fable of the “Frog and the Ox” depicts a frog which tries to puff himself up to be as large as an ox. The frog is unable to attain the size of an ox and inflates himself until he bursts. (18)
Frog spirit animal
The frog spirit animal is connected with wisdom, patience, and maturity. People with this spirit animal are especially attuned to the cycles of life and nature. The frog spirit animal is the keeper of knowledge associated with growth and life cycles.
People with the frog as their spirit animal tend to be wise, introverted, and mature. They may be considered to be “old souls” and are patient enough to wait for good things to come their way. (19)
Frog totem animal
The frog totem animal is associated with healing and creativity. People with this totem animal tend to be artistic and free-spirited. The frog totem is a common totem for artists, musicians, and creatives of all kinds.
The frog totem is an excellent spirit guide through difficult transitions and healing processes.
People with the frog as their totem animal feel a major drive to express themselves creatively. Self-expression is very important to the frog totem. (20)
Frog power animal
The frog power animal is connected with fertility. This power animal is an especially potent ally for women and growing families. The frog’s power helps ensure that families grow and remain healthy. Pregnant women may call on this power animal to guide and protect them through pregnancy.
The frog power animal is also a strong guiding force for the coming of age process and for aging gracefully. Elderly people and children alike will benefit from the guidance of the frog which eases you through life’s transitions. (21)
Frog tattoo meaning
Frog tattoos often symbolize good luck, joy, transformation, and prosperity. Many frog tattoos will come in the form of popular frog characters.
A frog tattoo might refer to a number of frog myths or fairytales. In fact, a frog tattoo might symbolize fairytales themselves.
For women especially, a frog tattoo might represent fertility and birth.
A Japanese frog tattoo symbolizes safe passage and homecoming.
Frogs are endlessly fascinating, charming, and lovable. Across a wide variety of cultures, these delightful amphibians evoke images of good luck, success, and prosperity. While some frog myths are negative, it is abundantly clear that the personality of the frog shines through around the globe as a beacon of positivity and happiness.