Myths of Irish Heather

It’s a special time o’ year ‘round here surrounded by the great green possibilities of spring at Chippewa Valley Growers. Plus, we’re the Kelly clan, for Paddy’s Sake!

We love the annual fun around the mainstream Irish associations with St. Patrick’s Day, leprechauns, and Guinness but how about the less advertised myths around the beloved Irish Heather?

Frolick in the Heather?

“Her flowing, auburn locks trailed behind the young lass as she frolicked through the fields of heather.” Sounds ideal, right?!?!

For a grocery store romance book, yes.

For reality, not so much.

The only way that you would run through a field of heather is with wellies (boots for us, Americans) in an effort to not end up with shredded feet. The bell-shaped flower is joined by spikes and scale-like leaves that are hardly the recommended landscape for frolicking. 

Luck for the Warriors

Scottish Warriors have found comfort in wearing white heather for generations. They trust that it brings protection because it is believed to only grow on the ground where no battle has caused bloodshed.

Better to Give and Receive

It is believed that when giving white heather as a gift, it brings luck to the one that is receiving the flower as well as the one gifting the plant.

Luck for the Ladies

In the 3rd Century AD legend, Malvina was to be married to a Celtic warrior, Oscar.

When the news of his death in battle was delivered to Malvina, it was accompanied by a spray of purple heather. It was a token of Oscar’s undying love for Malvina.

As she received the flowers, her tears fell on them with such a feeling of deep sorrow that the petals turned white. Upon seeing the phenomenon she proclaimed, although it is the symbol of my sorrow, may the white heather bring good fortune to all who find it.

Today, one will still find sprays of white heather tucked into a bride’s bouquet, corsages, or table decorations in honor of this long-held belief.

Where the Fairies Lay

It seems only fitting that the landscape of heather includes some magical reference to mystical creatures such as fairies. Legends hold that when one of the captivating fairies of the land is laid to rest, heather covers the ground to mark where the delicate one lays. 

A Good Night’s Rest

For years, heather mattresses were constructed and found to be just as comfortable as a feather bed. Many were convinced of this because of the dried flowers and stalks being so light and soft. The added aromatherapy was likely a trade-off for the downy competition.

Armed with random knowledge about this delightful Irish foliage, distract someone with your fun facts and tell us what other myths you know about heather!


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