Published In The Edmonton Sun April 17,2011
Early springtime sunshine often brings with it the glorious fragrance and beauty of nature blossoming upon the world. For centuries, we have associated certain types of flowers with specific meanings and values. We often use flowers as a way to express a particular sentiment of emotion. Easter Lilies and other spring flowers carry with them a significant meaning. Most often, the meaning associated with each flower is embedded in the history, legends, and characteristic qualities of the particular bloom.
The magnificent white lily known as the Easter Lily has long stood as a symbol of purity, hope, innocence and peace. Also called the Bermuda lily, the Trumpet lily, and Jacob’s Tears, the Easter lily is a biblical flower commonly associated with the resurrection of Christ.
In Christian tradition, the Easter lily signifies rebirth and a new beginning. It is said that beautiful white lilies sprang up in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus wept in the last hours before he was betrayed by Judas. Another legend claims that the white lilies grew from the repentant tears shed by Eve upon her departure from Paradise.
The lily is mentioned frequently throughout the bible and serves today as a beautiful reminder of the significance of the Easter season. Easter lilies grace homes and churches each spring as a symbol of purity, joy, hope and life.
This isn’t found as a cut flower typically, but I had to mention it as it such a magnificent symbol of spring in Edmonton. Often the first flower to appear each spring, written documentation of the crocus dates back as far as 1500 years before Christ. Highly valued in ancient times for its medicinal and herbal properties, the crocus was widely used in a number of ancient festivals and celebrations as a symbol of love and youthful joy.
Legends circling this early spring flower include that of a young and noble shepherd boy named Crocus who fell deeply in love with a sprightly nymph by the name of Smilax. According to this legend, the Gods were so deeply touched by Crocus’ love that they granted him immortal life in the form of a flower.
Another legend tells of the Roman Physician, Valentinus, who was jailed and sentenced to death for practicing Christianity. The blind daughter of the jailer was a patient of the physician. Just before being executed on February 14, 250AD, Valentinus handed the girl a note. Knowing of the healing properties of the flower, Valentinus wrapped a bright yellow Crocus in the message. When the girl opened the note, her sight was restored and she red the words, “From your Valentine”
The daffodil is also commonly referred to as the narcissus. It serves as the symbolic flower for the American Cancer Society, representing hope, bravery and new beginnings. As one of the early flowers of spring, the daffodil beautifully withstands the strong winds and storms of the season. Its sturdy and strong stem holds up through the harsh winds of spring, supporting the bright and vibrant petals of the flower.
According to ancient legend, the daffodil, or narcissus, also can serve as a symbol of unrequited love, vanity and egotism. Greek Mythology tells of a love-stricken wood nymph named Echo who fell hopelessly in love with a young man by the name of Narcissus. The young man was so self-consumed with his own beauty and vanity that he carelessly tossed aside Echo’s attentions. The Gods were angered by Narcissus’ actions and placed a curse upon him causing the young man to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. As he stayed beside his reflection, yearning for his unrequited love, he slowly was turned into a beautiful flower, destined to stare at his reflection forever.
Tulips are seen as a symbol of perfect love, imagination, and wistfulness. Various colors of tulips often carry various meanings. Red tulips are often seen as representing perfect and irresistible love. Yellow tulips signify hopeless love, white tulips symbolize forgiveness, and purple tulips denote royalty and nobility.
Turkish legend tells of a young prince by the name of Farhad who fell desperately in love with the beautiful maiden, Shirin. When Farhad received word that Shirin had been killed, he was so overcome with grief that he rode his horse over the edge of a cliff. Legend claims that a red tulip grew from each droplet of blood.
The tulip is also the flower of the 11 th wedding anniversary. The velvety dark center of the flower is said to symbolize the heart of a passionate lover. In addition to its many other meanings, the tulip also represents grace and elegance.
The beautiful and elegant iris serves as a symbol of wisdom, faith, and valor. It is said that the flower received its name from the Greek goddess of the rainbow. Iris relayed messages from the eye of Heaven to the earth. She also carried the duty of leading the souls of women to the Elysian Fields when they died. Men often planted a single iris on the graves of their beloved as a symbol of their respect.
The iris is also often used by French and English royalty as a symbol of God’s blessing upon the throne. Legend claims that an angel awarded Clovis, king of the Franks, with a golden iris upon his conversion to Christianity. The flower became a symbol of purity, light, and perfection.