Hope isn't the only thing that the swallow is associated with, though. The bird is also often used as an icon for mothers who have lost children. Indeed, many cultures believe that swallows carry the souls of lost children.
As a result, killing a swallow is considered to be a very, very naughty thing to do.
Losing a child is one of the greatest tragedies that a parent can face; the swallow is supposed to bring about a sense of healing and hope for those who have lost the most precious people in their lives.
It is believed by many that killing a swallow brings about a great deal of bad luck.
Swallow tattoo designs have come to stand for many other things, too. Pilgrims to Mecca consider the swallow to be a symbol of constancy and faith. The journey to the Promised Land can be long and arduous, but swallows make long migrations every year and handle them well.
Since they mate for life, swallows are also associated with fidelity and faithfulness; strangely enough, though, the Japanese often associate the swallow with unfaithfulness. In China, the swallow design stands for daring and danger; in some cultures, it is considered very bad luck for a swallow to fly through a room in the home.