The red cardinal symbolizes monogamy and relationships. Native American lore states that cardinals are emissaries of the great spirit that carry messages and knowledge to people.
Native Americans believe many birds and animals bring messages to people from the Great Spirit and have magical abilities that empower human beings. The red cardinal is a bird that has monogamous relationships, so Native Americans believe that they symbolize monogamy and romance. A red cardinal that crosses a person's path heralds a future romantic relationship. In some cases, the cardinal is a warning to those who have been unfaithful to their significant other to mend their ways.
Furthermore, the cardinal is a sort of matchmaker. Legend states that a cardinal was befriended by a maiden. As it was flying, the bird happened upon a lonely man. The bird led the man to the woman, and when the two people met, a relationship blossomed.
Cardinals symbolize luck and are associated with the number 12. For instance, cardinals can live in a single place all year round, meaning that a person can see one 12 months a year. Cardinals also supposedly lay 12 eggs at a time. It is said that a person who spots a cardinal can expect good fortune at 12 a.m., 12 p.m., or in 12 hours or days.