Discovering What Lilies Symbolize: Meaning and Significance

Lilies have been a symbol of purity and innocence for centuries. These beautiful flowers are not only a feast for the eyes, but they also carry a significant meaning that can make any occasion special. Whether you’re looking for a unique gift for someone or decorating your home, lilies can add a touch of elegance and charm that never fades away.

In ancient Greece, lilies were associated with the goddess Hera, who was the queen of the gods and the protector of women. In Christian traditions, lilies symbolize the resurrection of Jesus and are commonly used in Easter celebrations. The Victorians, on the other hand, saw lilies as a symbol of renewal and hope, which is why they were often used in weddings as a way to wish the newlyweds a happy and fulfilling life together.

Lilies are not just pretty flowers, but they also carry a message that speaks to people’s hearts. They remind us of the beauty of nature and the importance of staying pure and hopeful in a world that can be challenging at times. Whether you’re a nature lover or someone who appreciates the finer things in life, lilies are a perfect choice that will never disappoint.

History of Lily Symbols

The lily is an elegant and enchanting flower that has been admired and treasured for thousands of years. It has served as a symbol of various meanings and sentiments throughout time. Here is a brief look at the history of lily symbols:

  • The Ancient Greeks associated lilies with Hera, the queen of the gods, as a symbol of her divinity and purity.
  • In Christian traditions, the lily represented the Virgin Mary, portraying her purity and innocence.
  • During the Middle Ages, the lily became associated with the French monarchy, and its image was often depicted in royal regalia and insignia.

Over time, the lily has been used as a symbol of love, fertility, prosperity, and renewal. It has also played a part in mythology, literature, and art across various cultures and periods.

Here is a table showing some of the different meanings associated with lilies:

Symbolism Lily Type
Purity and innocence White lilies
Passion and romance Red lilies
Rebirth and renewal Yellow lilies
Prosperity and abundance Orange lilies
Sympathy and remembrance Stargazer lilies

The beauty and symbolism of lilies continue to captivate people today, making them a popular choice for significant occasions and events.

Religious significance of lilies

Lilies have been a part of religious practices and beliefs for centuries. These elegant flowers have been mentioned in various religious texts and have been associated with significant events and personalities. Here are some religious significances of lilies:

  • Christianity: Lilies are considered as a symbol of the Virgin Mary’s purity and chastity. It is said that when the archangel Gabriel visited Mary to announce that she would become the mother of Jesus Christ, a lily was present in the room. According to Christian tradition, the lily also represents the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The trumpet-shaped blooms of the lily symbolize Gabriel’s trumpet call that will herald the second coming of Christ.
  • Buddhism: In Buddhism, the lily symbolizes the awakening of the soul and the attainment of enlightenment. The lotus flower, which is similar in appearance to the lily and belongs to the same family, is also associated with Buddhism and represents purity, spiritual growth, and detachment from worldly desires.
  • Hinduism: Lilies are associated with the goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi, in Hinduism. It is said that when the goddess emerged from the ocean during the churning of the cosmic ocean, she was accompanied by a lotus and a lily. The lily represents purity and prosperity, and it is believed that offering lilies to Lakshmi can bring good luck and fortune.

Mythology related to lilies

Lilies have been a part of mythology and folklore for centuries, and many cultures have their own interpretations and narratives about these beautiful flowers.

The significance of the number three in lily mythology

  • In Greek mythology, the goddess Hera, queen of the gods, created the lily. Legend has it that when her husband, Zeus, was unfaithful to her, she shed jealous tears that fell to the ground and turned into lilies. According to Greek tradition, there are three species of lilies, each with a distinct meaning.
  • In Christian mythology, the lily is associated with the Holy Trinity, with three petals representing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is also believed that the Archangel Gabriel gave the Virgin Mary a lily when he announced that she would give birth to Jesus, signifying purity and divinity.
  • In Chinese mythology, the goddess of mercy, Guan Yin, is often depicted holding a vase filled with three lilies. This represents the three virtues of the goddess – compassion, kindness, and love – and is believed to bring blessings and good fortune.

The number three has a significant role in lily mythology, representing divinity and spiritual significance.

Lilies and the Royal Family

For centuries, lilies have been associated with royalty and have played a significant role in the lives of many royal families around the world. The elegant beauty and fragrant aroma of lilies are highly prized, and they have served as symbols of wealth, power, and purity.

  • The lily is the official flower of the British monarchy and has been used extensively in royal ceremonies, coronations, and weddings. Queen Elizabeth II even has a special breed of lily named after her.
  • The fleur-de-lis, a stylized lily, has been used as a symbol of French royalty since the 11th century. It was also adopted as a symbol by English kings after their conquest of France in the 15th century.
  • Japanese Emperors have traditionally used lilies as a means of communication with foreign dignitaries, and they have played a central role in Japanese culture for centuries.

One of the most significant ways that lilies have been used in royal families is through their symbolism. Different types and colors of lilies have different meanings, and they have been used to convey messages of love, loyalty, and hope. White lilies, for example, are traditional symbols of purity, innocence, and virtue, while pink lilies symbolize admiration and gratitude.

In addition to their symbolic meaning, lilies have also been used to decorate royal gardens and palaces. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London, which were established in the 18th century and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, contain a wide variety of lilies. The gardens were a favorite of Queen Victoria, who even had a lily named after her, the Victoria Amazonica.

Type of Lily Meaning
White Lily Purity, Innocence, Virtue
Pink Lily Admiration, Gratitude, Prosperity
Yellow Lily Joy, Happiness, Friendship
Orange Lily Passion, Energy, Enthusiasm
Red Lily Love, Romance, Courage

In conclusion, lilies and the royal family have a long and rich history together. Whether it’s through their symbolic meaning or their use in royal gardens and palaces, lilies hold a special place in the hearts of many members of the royal family and their subjects. For those who admire the elegance and grace of lilies, it’s easy to see why they have become such an important part of royal culture and tradition.

Lilies in Art History

Throughout history, lilies have been featured prominently in art and have carried various meanings and symbolism, depending on the context and culture. Some notable examples of lilies in art history include:

  • The Madonna Lily – this particular type of lily is often depicted in Christian art as the symbol of the Virgin Mary and the purity of her divine motherhood. It is often included in depictions of the Annunciation, where the Angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will bear Jesus.
  • The Lily of the Valley – this delicate flower has been used in artwork throughout Europe since the Medieval Ages. It is often associated with the Virgin Mary, as a sign of her humility and innocence.
  • Japanese woodblock prints – lilies have played an important role in traditional Japanese art, particularly in the form of woodblock prints. These prints often feature beautiful depictions of lily flowers and other natural elements.

The use of lilies in art is not limited to traditional paintings and prints. In modern art, lilies have continued to inspire artists to create unique and interesting pieces that explore the flower’s symbolism in new ways. Some artists have taken a more abstract approach, using the shape and color of the lily to create bold, eye-catching works of art.

Overall, the presence of lilies in art history serves as a testament to the flower’s enduring beauty and symbolic meaning. Whether used in religious or secular contexts, lilies have proven to be a rich source of inspiration for artists throughout the centuries.

Types of Lilies and Their Meanings

Lilies are not just fragrant and beautiful, but also full of symbolic meaning. Different types of lilies represent different things, and understanding them can help you send the right message with your gift or decoration. Here are some of the most common types of lilies and their meanings.

  • Asiatic Lilies – These lilies are a simple yet elegant choice that represents purity, innocence, and modesty. Their bright colors – from yellow to pink to red to white – make them a popular choice for weddings and other special occasions. Asiatic lilies are also a popular gift for new mothers or new babies.
  • Oriental Lilies – These large, fragrant lilies are a bit more exotic and luxurious than the Asiatic lilies. They represent beauty, abundance, and prosperity, making them a great gift to show appreciation or congratulations. Oriental lilies come in a wide range of colors, including white, pink, purple, and red.
  • Calla Lilies – These elegant lilies are known for their trumpet-like shape and are often used in wedding bouquets and centerpieces. Calla lilies represent sophistication, magnificence, and beauty. The most common color for calla lilies is white, although they also come in other colors such as pink, yellow, and orange.
  • Stargazer Lilies – These dramatic lilies have bold, deep pink petals with dark spots and a sweet fragrance. They represent ambition, confidence, and success, making them a great gift for someone who has achieved a milestone or accomplished something significant. Stargazer lilies are also a popular choice for Valentine’s Day or anniversaries.
  • Calla Lily – The calla lily is a unique flower that represents faith, purity, and holiness. It is often associated with religious celebrations, such as Easter or weddings. The calla lily is a very symbolic flower, and many people believe that it represents the resurrection of Christ.
  • Daylilies – These cheerful flowers are named for their brief lifespan – they bloom for only one day. Daylilies represent purity, renewal, and new beginnings. They come in a variety of colors, from soft pastels to bright oranges and reds, and are a popular choice for gardens.

The Symbolic Meaning of the Number 6 in Lilies

The number 6 has special symbolic meaning in many cultures and is often associated with abundance, harmony, and balance. This symbolism is reflected in the lily, particularly the calla lily. The calla lily has six petals arranged in a spiral, which symbolizes the balance of the universe and the harmony that exists between all things.

Symbolism Meaning
Balance The number 6 represents balance and equilibrium, and the six petals of the calla lily symbolize this concept.
Harmony The number 6 is also associated with harmony and the idea that all things are in balance. This is reflected in the calla lily’s six petals.
Abundance The number 6 is often associated with abundance and fertility, as it is the product of multiplying the male (3) and female (2) numbers. This symbolism is reflected in the calla lily’s ability to produce abundant, beautiful blooms.

Understanding the symbolism behind the number 6 in lilies can deepen your appreciation for these beautiful flowers and help you choose the right type of lily for the occasion.

Lilies as Funeral Flowers

It is common knowledge that lilies are the most common flowers used for funerals. This is for a good reason; lilies symbolize the restoration of innocence and purity of the deceased. Lilies have an air of elegance that symbolizes a soul that was dignified and pure. However, different lilies mean different things.

  • White lilies are the most common funeral flowers. They represent the restored innocence of the deceased and the hope that they will find peace in the afterlife.
  • Stargazer lilies are used to symbolize sympathy and condolences. The pink color represents an admiration for the departed person.
  • Calla lilies symbolize extra grace and dignity of the departed person.

The number of lilies in a funeral arrangement also has significance. For instance, seven lilies represent the seven stages of grief.

Number of Lilies Meaning
1 A personal tribute to the deceased
3 Expressing love, honor, and respect
6 Sending love and being supportive of the grieving family
9 A tribute to the deceased person’s family and saying that they will remain in the family’s hearts for eternity
13 As a symbol of admiration and respect that people had for the deceased
15 Inspiring the grieving person to take heart and brace themselves for the next chapter of life
21 Sentimental feelings, representing a deep and close relationship with a departed person
40 Unconditional love, respect, and immense grief that people feel for the departed person

When giving lilies as funeral flowers, understanding their meaning helps us to send the appropriate message and allows us to express our feelings properly.

Lilies in Weddings and Bridal Bouquets

As one of the most popular wedding flowers, lilies carry a significant meaning in weddings and bridal bouquets. Here are some specific ways that lilies are used in weddings:

  • Symbolism: Do you want your wedding to represent beauty, purity, and faith? Lilies are a perfect representation of all of these things. Whether you choose white lilies or another color, the symbolism remains the same.
  • Bridal Bouquets: Lilies can make up an entire bouquet by themselves or be mixed with other flowers such as roses, baby’s breath, or orchids. Lilies’ unique shape makes them perfect for creating a beautiful cascading bouquet.
  • Corsages and Boutonnieres: Lilies can be used in corsages or boutonnieres for the wedding party. They can be worn on their own or paired with other flowers.
  • Nuptial Décor: Lilies can be incorporated into table centerpieces, altar arrangements, and even hair accessories for the bridal party. They can be used to create an elegant and sophisticated atmosphere for the ceremony and reception.

It is important to note that the number of lilies used in arrangements can also have a significant meaning. In Chinese culture, the number 8 is considered to be lucky and a symbol of wealth and prosperity. As a result, it is common to see eight lilies used in wedding arrangements for good fortune.

Number of Lilies Symbolic Meaning
1 Purity and Innocence
3 Wish for Happiness, Wealth and Longevity
6 Care, Concern and Support
8 Prosperity and Abundance
9 Sincere and Honest Devotion

Whether you choose to use lilies in a bouquet or as décor, their symbolism and versatility make them a popular choice for weddings.

Cultural Differences in Lily Symbolism

Lilies are some of the most recognized and iconic flowers for their elegance and grace. However, their meanings vary depending on the culture, religion, and time period. Here are some cultural differences in lily symbolism.

The Number 9

In China, the number 9 is considered lucky and is associated with eternity, harmony, and spiritual fulfillment. Therefore, the Chinese give 9 lilies to wish someone a long and prosperous life. However, in other cultures, like the Mayans, the number 9 is associated with death, as they believe that it represents the nine levels of the underworld. Hence, lilies are used in Mayan funerals to represent the stages in the afterlife journey.

Other cultures also have their own belief on the significance of numbers, which affects the choice and number of flowers they give as gifts. For example, in Japan, the number 4 is considered unlucky as it sounds like the word for death. So, if you ever plan to give flowers in Japan, avoid giving four lilies or any flowers that come in four pieces.

Lilies in literature and poetry

Lilies have been depicted in literature and poetry for centuries, often used as a symbol of purity, elegance, and spirituality. Writers and poets have been inspired by the beauty and fragrance of lilies and have used them in their works to convey various emotions and ideas.

  • Shakespeare’s famous play Hamlet features Ophelia, who gives out flowers that signify the different stages of life and death. When she hands out lilies, she says, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember; and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts,” implying that lilies symbolize death.
  • In the poem “The Lily” by William Blake, the flower is referred to as a symbol of chastity and purity. The poem describes a lily as “a flower modest and rare, / Innocence that blossometh there,” highlighting the flower’s association with purity.
  • In his poem “The Lily of the Valley,” Paul Laurence Dunbar compares the flower to a woman’s virtue and beauty, saying, “Her gentle bell no storm may brave, / Sweet Lily of the Valley.” Here, the lily represents the feminine beauty and grace.

In addition to being a symbol of life and death, purity and beauty, lilies have also been used to represent various cultures and religions. The Madonna Lily, for example, is a flower that has long been associated with the Virgin Mary in Christian tradition. It symbolizes her purity and motherhood.

Type of Lily Symbols
White Lily Purity, innocence, sympathy
Easter Lily Resurrection, renewal, hope
Day Lily Coquetry, flirtatiousness, playfulness
Tiger Lily Wealth, pride

Overall, lilies have been used in literature and poetry to symbolize a range of meanings and emotions. Their delicate beauty and mesmerizing fragrance have inspired countless writers and poets to incorporate them in their works, making them an iconic flower in literary history.

What do lilies symbolize?

Q: What is the general meaning of lilies?
A: Lilies generally symbolize purity, innocence, and beauty.

Q: What color of lilies represent purity?
A: White lilies represent purity and innocence.

Q: What is the meaning of yellow lilies?
A: Yellow lilies symbolize gratitude and joy.

Q: What do orange lilies represent?
A: Orange lilies symbolize passion, confidence, and pride.

Q: What do pink lilies symbolize?
A: Pink lilies symbolize love, affection, and admiration.

Q: What is the meaning of red lilies?
A: Red lilies symbolize passion, love, and desire.

Q: What do lilies represent in different cultures?
A: Lilies are used in different cultures to symbolize different meanings such as rebirth, fertility, death, and sorrow.

A Last Note about Lilies

Now that you know what lilies symbolize, you can choose them as a gift with a more significant meaning that represents your message to the receiver. These beautiful flowers bring life to any space and uplift your mood. The lilies’ fragrance will remind you of the significant meaning that they carry. Thank you for reading about what lilies represent! Don’t forget to visit us again.