The History & Symbolism of the Easter Lily

With the spring holiday of Easter, many of us growers instantly think of the beautiful Easter Lily. While we associate the delicate flower with this time of year, here is the why behind it.

History of Easter Lily

In the early 1900s Easter Lilies were imported into the United States from Japan. The Asian country continued to be the major provider for an extended period of time. That is until World War II.

The replacement to the diminished supply, unknowingly, actually started back in World War I. A soldier, Louis Houghton, brought home bulbs from his tour overseas. As a hobby gardener, he began to grow the lilies in southern Oregon. He also shared some of his treasures with his other horticulture loving friends. They, in turn, shared the stunning flower with their friends, who shared with their friends and so on. In roughly four years, bulb producing growers reached to approximately 1,200 from Vancouver down to southern California.

Although Japan tried to restore its American presence, they were never able to gain the same foothold they had before.

Symbolism of Easter Lily

Usually found adorning church alters on Easter Sunday, there isn’t much about the Easter Lily that has been associated with some type of symbolism closely related to the Christian faith.

  • Their white color is associated with purity and how Christ was sinless.

  • The shape of the Easter lily is that of a trumpet. Trumpets are associated with the announcement of something, and in this case, the announcement of Christ’s resurrection.

  • The growth from a bulb mimics Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

  • Some also believe that lilies were found in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s crucifixion.

We will leave you with this beautiful piece by Louise Lewin Matthews that pays homage to the flower that carries so much this season.

Easter morn with lilies fair
Fills the church with perfumes rare,
As their clouds of incense rise,
Sweetest offerings to the skies.
Stately lilies pure and white
Flooding darkness with their light,
Bloom and sorrow drifts away,
On this holy hallow’d day.
Easter Lilies bending low
in the golden afterglow,
Bear a message from the sod
To the heavenly towers of God.

Hope you and yours had a wonderful Easter weekend. We look forward to sharing our celebration stories with you and look forward to hearing about yours.

If you want to learn more about flower symbolism or to learn more about what is happening at our Emerald City, please sign up to join our email list.

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