Flowershave long been a form of non-verbal language used to communicate affections, love or just a way of expressing one’s self to another when words may fail. Long before emails, texts and phone calls, people generally used flowers to convey messages in the 18th and 19th century - this was known as floriography!
Although we do have plenty of ways to communicate in this day and age, the art ofconversing through flowers is still as meaningful as ever and can offer a touch of class when used right. Eachflower of the month orbirth month flowers have extremely special meanings, so knowing what they are will surely make the recipient feel really loved.
May’sflower of the month is Lily of the Valley. So, let’s dive in a little into what they mean and how you can use them to express what you would like to say.
Its scientific name,Convallaria majalis, of which the first part means “valley” and the second part means “of May” or “belonging to Maia”, brings no surprise as to why this springtime flower was chosen to represent the month of May.
Lily of the Valleyflowers bloom in springtime and has asweet refreshing fragrance, making them a popularly sought-after botanical in the perfume industry. Because of theirfragrant floral appeal, they also make theperfect flowers to either wear on hair or to be made intofragrant bridal and bridesmaids bouquets!
As refreshing and sweet as they do smell, they are considered to be highly toxic if ingested and can cause nausea and diarrhoea, so don’t eat them or drink them with tea, ever! However, people have used extracts of this flower for medicinal purposes in small doses.
The Many Tales, Meanings and Symbolism ofLily of the Valley in Different Cultures:
There’s a lovely legend that tells a tale of theLily of the Valley that fell in love with the beautiful singing of a nightingale. Theflower will longingly wait for the bird to return in May, and only then will it finally bloom again. Aww!
With manydainty white fragrant flowers grouped together in a stem, theLily of the Valley flower is very closely associated withweddings as it usually symbolises sweetness, humility, purity, hope, and the return of happiness. They also representmotherhood which makes them especiallygreat flowers to gift to your mother or grandmother on their birthdays or for Mother’s Day!
Historically, in the 20th century, it is said that people in France soldLily of the Valleyon the 1st of May and they wouldn’t need to pay taxes from the profits they made from selling theflowers. This then becomes a symbol ofspring, work and harvest. Until today, this tradition is still widely practised in parts of Europe and the 1st of May is now known as TheLily of the ValleyDay.
In current times, if you do give a bouquet of Lily of the Valley to a loved one, you would essentially be also wishing them luck and prosperity.
This other symbolism is derived from theLily of the Valley’s bell-shaped flowers. There’s a belief that little bells are great to keep around to call on to good spirits which makes them agreat lucky charm. Some older folks believe these flowerscan also converse with the “outside world” or the “other realm”. As such, theseflowers were kept at home to keep away bad vibes and energy.
There’s a myth in Greek that Apollo (the god of sun) grewLily of the Valley flowers in the woods as they protected the delicate and beautiful feet of his nine muses as they walked on the passages of his woods. This, in turn, gave the flower its significance of kindness.
The Lily of the Valley flower is said to be mentioned 15 times in the Bible and is considered to be a pretty common symbol in the Christian religion. Traditionally, theLily of the Valley flower is called “our lady’s tears” and was taken from the story of Mary crying for her crucified son. The story then goes that theLily of the Valley was taken to the gates of heaven to measure the purity of one's heart and soul.
Another Christian theory of theLily of the Valley that symbolises humility is derived from the significance of Eve’s tears, crying as she was cast out of the Garden of Eden.
There are more stories ofLily of the Valley representing tears. In Romania, there’s a very old tale of a girl who lost her parents and had to go to an orphanage. She was incredibly sad and cried at their graves deeply mourning her loss. It was said that later on,Lily of the Valley flowersstarted to sprout in places where her tears fell on that ground.
Here’s a fun little one from Medieval England.Springwas usually celebrated in May with a lot of merriment and dancing. One of these dances was called “the courtship” and it means exactly what you think it does! The story goes that a young man must hang a bunch ofLily of the Valley flowers in the doorway of the girl’s house he fancies, and if the girl shows up to the dance with thoseflowers in her hair, it means that she has accepted his invite to the dance.
Talk about some good-old fashion Medieval-England-style prom-posals!
And that pretty much wraps up most of what you need to know about theLily of the Valley! Now, go practice your floriography skills on your loved ones this May!