Sunday, 7 March 2010

Harbinger of Spring - Snowdrop

Galanthus nivalis
Symbolic of consolation; maybe just gazing at the flower soothes the hearts wounds.

Love Flower, hemmed in with snows,
And white as they but hardier for,
once more I see thee bend thy forehead as if fearful to offered,
Like an unbidden guest….
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years.

Snowdrops and carnations are the traditional flowers for the month of January. The name Galanthus, is Greek in its origin and signifies milk - white- flower.Nivalis is a Latin adjective, meaning relating to or resembling snow.

A legend about the origin of the snowdrop tells us that after being expelled from the Garden of Eden, Eve sat weeping. An angel comforted her. Since the Fall, no flowers had bloomed, but snow fell ceaselessly. As the angel talked with Eve, he caught a snowflake in his hand, breathed on it, and it fell to earth as the first snowdrop. The flower bloomed and Hope was born.
In Germany there is a different snowdrop legend. When God made all things on the Earth, He asked the snow to go to the flowers and get a little color from them. One by one the flowers refused. Then, very sad, she asked a snowdrop to give it a little of its colour and the snowdrop accepted. As a reward, the snow lets it bloom first whenever spring shows.

Years ago snowdrops were dried and transported to European shops from Turkey. Monks brought snowdrop bulbs from Rome to England and were the first to plant them around old monasteries. Because of this snowdrops became known as the "church flower". Their presence in churchyards generated an unlucky reputation as time went on.

Every spring on March 1, the national Moldovan holiday, is celebrated. On this day people present each other with the traditional flowers. One of the old Moldovan legend says that once in a fight with the winter witch, that didn't want to give up its place, the beautiful lady Spring cut her finger and few drops of her blood fell on the snow, which melted. Soon on this place grew a snowdrop and in such a way the spring won the winter.

According to superstitions it is unlucky to bring snowdrops indoors and the sight of a single snowdrop blooming in the garden foretells of impending disaster. It is regarded as an omen of death despite its beauty. It symbolises purity and hope in the language of flowers.

~ taken from "Meaning and Legends of Flowers"