Nike is the Greek Goddess of victory. Her Roman counterpart is Victoria. The presence of victory culture is incredibly important in popular culture, and in culture more generally. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was often at Union Square growing up. There is a monument with a small woman atop of it in the center of Union Square: that is the Dewey Monument, a monument to commemorate Admiral George Dewey and his victory in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War. The small woman atop of it is the Goddess of Victory. It has been in the center of Union Square since 1903.
I find it ironic that stores flanking Union Square include the athletic giant Nike (named after the Goddess of Victory) and Victoria’s Secret, which is most notable for their famous Victoria’s Secret Angels, known for wearing angel wings during their annual fashion show. It’s as if the homage to Nike is now through the consumerism of these brands and the values that they represent, which is actually no small feat since Victoria’s Secret and Nike are arguably the more powerful movers and shakers in a global apparel industry.
In Greek mythology, Nike is usually depicted in the hand of Zeus or Minerva. Nike and her siblings were close companions of Zeus as the myths go, and Nike was known for flying around battlefields and rewarding the victors with glory and fame. This is not unlike the way in which J.K. Rowling depicts the Golden Snitch ball in the game of Quidditch in Harry Potter.
The importance of victory is valued in society and inherent to that value set is a worship of the ways in which victory can be seen out. Moreover, there is a protective aspect of Nike in how she presents herself. A couple more representations of angelic style have been worn at Miss Universe for the national costume portion of the show in the past. In 2010, Miss USA Rima Fakih wore a costume as the national seal, and in 2015, Miss USA Olivia Jordan wore a costume of a bald eagle that gave similar undertones to outfits worn by Victoria’s Secret Angels.
There is another angel who presents herself in a yearly fashion: Christkind comes to children as a gift giver in Austria and around Europe for Christmas rather than Santa Claus. For me, I always thought Christkind was an incredibly magical figure, and I still think she is. Christkind is an angelic representation of the Christ child, but she is also a reminder of the magic of angels and how they are correlated with victory. Angels are truly our protectors.