Discover the Seven Most Popular Easter Flowers and Their Symbolic Meanings
Easter is a celebration of rebirth. We start to see the first signs of life in the early months of spring, between March and April, when flowers begin to bloom and animals give birth to their young. After the long winter, the canvas of vivid colors and pastels—and yes, that fresh fragrance of blooming plants—contributes to the idea of waking up in a new world filled with promise.
Historians once believed that Easter had connections to the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility Eostre, but newly-discovered facts tell a different story. The word "Easter" has been traced back to the Latin phrase for a Christian celebration called "in albis" (meaning "dawn") that later became the Old High German word "eostarum," according to Britannica. The holiday celebrates Easter Sunday as the day of Jesus Christ's resurrection, which is written in the New Testament of the Bible. For Christians around the world, this symbolizes redemption for humankind, forgiveness for past wrongdoing, and an opportunity to live a better life. Over the years, spring flowers—especially those that bloom between March and April—have taken on a special meaning for the holiday. Floral colors like red, white, and purple symbolize different aspects of the Easter story, while the flowers' shapes indicate other meanings. And as beautiful as these flowers are in nature, nothing compares to how they can be used at home in tabletop centerpieces, baskets, and outdoor decorations for the holiday. Ahead, discover what a few of the most popular Easter flowers symbolize within the context of the holiday.
White Easter flowers, like the lily, often symbolize purity and innocence. For Christians, this purity and innocence is associated with Christ. Lilies also have religious significance; they were mentioned in the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments. Discovered by a Swedish naturalist named Carl Peter Thunberg in 1777, modern-day lilies originate from the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. English and Bermuda horticulturists began growing their own crops soon after their discovery—but it wasn't until the blooms made it into flower shops in Philadelphia that the lilies began to be called Easter lilies.
Lily of the Valley
Lilies of the valley are another popular white bloom come Easter: They were mentioned by King Solomon several times and referenced by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. The lily of the valley symbolizes the Advent of Christ and the purity of the Virgin Mary, according to Signs & Symbols in Christian Art from Oxford University Press.
Beautiful and vibrant, tulips—with buds that come in an array of different colors—are the ultimate spring flower. According to ProFlowers, white tulips are associated with forgiveness, a common theme for Easter. The purple iteration represents royalty, so a bouquet with white-and-purple tulips would celebrate the royalty of Jesus Christ as the son of God. This Easter flower has its origins in Turkey, but became associated with Holland after being cultivated by the Dutch. A little-known and interesting fact about tulips is that their bulbs became so prized, that they were used as currency for a time—until the tulip market crashed, that is. But, as author and historian Anne Goldgar cautions, there never really was a "tulip fever." Tulips remain popular to this day because of their beauty and versatility. You can find a variety to express your feelings or decorate a room with relative ease and on Easter, an arrangement of tulips is always a lovely choice.
Irises symbolize the Passion of Christ and resurrection, as told in historical manuscripts at The Getty. Irises come in different colors, each with their own symbolism. According to the Journal of Experimental Botany, "iris" is a Greek word that means "rainbow" (because of its many available colors). The flowers have sword-like petals, which may explain why the flowers are sometimes referred to as "sword lilies," according to Signs & Symbols in Christian Art. The upright petals of the iris are said to symbolize the three virtues: faith, valor, and wisdom. When arranging irises for display, choose one type and one color per container for the prettiest effect. An old-fashioned celery glass makes a nice vase for these flowers.
Baby's breath symbolizes innocence and purity; on Easter, this refers to the purity of Christ. They mostly come in white, though pink baby's breath is sometimes found. These delicate, tiny flowers are often used as filler in bouquets and make for gorgeous arrangements. For Easter, baby's breath adds a lightness to bouquets, wreaths, and centerpieces for the table. Add a garland of of this variety along a banister to accent the other Easter flowers in your home.
Daisies and Dandelions
If any flower is iconic for spring, it's the daisy. White daisies symbolize hope, serenity, and purity, according to Eastern Floral. The dandelion—which is similar in shape—also has some religious symbolism when it comes to the holiday. According to Symbols of the Christian Faith by Alva William Steffler, it was featured in Flemish and German paintings of the Crucifixion and thus came to represent the Passion of Christ. Best of all, these Easter flowers pair well together in bouquets, boutonnières, and front door wreaths. Their cheerful hues offer a pop of color that brightens up any room.