What Is the Meaning of a Lily Flower?

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What Is the Meaning of a Lily Flower?
Lilies have many different meanings. (lily image by maureen dainty from Fotolia.com)

Lilies can be found all over the world and come in different sizes and colours, including orange, yellow and white. According to the Flower Expert, lilies rank fourth among the flowers in popularity. Lilies are used in arrangements as gifts or to celebrate and honour different occasions. Their meanings spread from early Christianity to Greek mythology and even have meanings in symbolic dreams.

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Lilies and the Virgin Mary

The lily is associated with the Virgin Mary and seen in early Christian art, typically depicted in a vase. The Virgin Mary's tomb was reputedly decorated with white Madonna lilies; the petals of the lily symbolised her purity and radiant soul. Other parts of the flower represent different aspects of the Virgin Mary: the stem symbolises her religiously faithful mind; the scent represents her divinity and the leaves symbolise her humility.

Lilies and Ancient Mythology

Lilies have had a place in ancient Greek mythology since at least 1580 B.C.; their images were discovered in a villa of that era in Crete. The word lily is derived from the Greek word "leiron." The lily signifies motherhood and birth because, according to Greek lore, the flower was created from the breast milk of Hera, the wife of Zeus. According to myth, Hercules, the son of Zeus, sucked at the bosom of Hera to become a god. Her milk overflowed, turning into a white lily.

Meaning of Different Colors and Types

Different colours of lilies mean different things. The white lily stands for modesty and virginity. The orange lily symbolises passion, and the yellow lily symbolises gaiety and gratitude. Easter lilies carry the meaning of the Virgin Mary, while lily of the valley symbolises sweetness and purity of heart.

Other Associations

Lilies of the valley are the second anniversary wedding flower and the calla lily is the flower for a sixth wedding anniversary. The day lily is the flower for the 20th wedding anniversary in China. They are also the birth flower for the month of May.

Besides purity and motherhood, the lily has several other words associated with it, including hope, faith, renewal, promise, passion, becoming, chastity, innocence, fertility, cleansing, remembrance and transitioning.

Dreaming of Lilies

Dreaming of lilies can also have several meanings. If a dreamer is looking at a lily, it symbolises a message of encouragement and potential success. If the dreamer is holding a lily, it symbolises she is highly respected by others. If the dreamer is throwing or tossing the flower, it means that she has abused her power. Dreaming of lilies can also indicate a need for rest, peace, personal balance and tranquillity.

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