Many people love lilies for their beautiful, trumpet-shaped flowers that sit atop strong stems. But the lily flower meaning also deserves special recognition! Lilies symbolize love, purity, fertility, and rebirth, but each lily color has a unique meaning.
We’re going to dive into the lily meaning a bit further, including its symbolism related to specific cultures and individual flower colors.
Lilies are a genus of flowering plants that consist of over 100 individual species. These perennial plants grow from bulbs and produce trumpet-shaped flowers each year. The word lily comes from the Greek word leírion.
Along with the “true lilies” that belong to the Lilium genus, people often use the word lily to refer to other plants with lily-like flowers or foliage. Some examples include the calla lily, trout lily, and lily of the valley.
True lilies are native to temperate regions across the world, including parts of North America, Europe, and Asia. Today, you can find lilies growing throughout the world. Varieties like Stargazer lilies and Turk’s cap lilies are popular garden flowers and also great choices for bouquets. Some lilies have strong fragrances while others have more muted scents.
What Does the Lily Symbolize?
Now you know the basics about these flowers. But what is the meaning of the lily flower? In short, the lily flower is a symbol of love, innocence, purity, fertility, and rebirth.
Looking for love? Then look no further than a lily! These beautiful flowers are symbols of pure and everlasting love. Perhaps this lily flower meaning comes from the plant’s ability to reemerge each year, or maybe it relates to the gorgeous flowers and their often intoxicating fragrance.
No matter the exact reason behind this symbolism, it’s clear that lilies are an excellent way to show your love. That means you can order lilies online for anniversaries, weddings, and other love-filled occasions. So order some just because!
When you look at lilies, you may notice the flower’s perfectly arranged, delicate petals. These petals represent innocence that remains unscathed by the outside world. This symbolism of innocence may relate to why Christians view the lily as a symbol of the Virgin Mary.
Fertility and Rebirth
Lilies have long been seen as symbols of fertility and rebirth. Therefore, they’re often used to welcome new children into the world. They’re also common funeral flowers since their relationship to rebirth is used to wish the deceased well in their afterlives.
One of the most popular lily origin stories relates to fertility and rebirth. It all starts with the god Zeus and the goddess Hera. Legend has it that Zeus had an affair with a mortal woman, and she later gave birth to Zeus’s son Hercules. Since Hercules was half-mortal, Zeus wanted Hera to breastfeed his son so he could gain the goddess’s powers. However, Hera didn’t want to claim the child as her own and refused to nurse him.
Zeus didn’t stand for this response and snuck Hercules onto Hera’s breast while she was sleeping. When Hera awoke, she was enraged and promptly threw Hercules away from her. A few drops of her breast milk also flew through the air and landed on the ground. As the milk hit the ground, white lilies emerged in their place. Hence, the relationship to rebirth.
The lily is also linked to fertility in other cultures. The ancient Mesopotamian civilizations of Babylonia and Assyria related the lily flower meaning to Ishtar, the goddess of fertility and war.
People also view lily flowers, especially white lilies, as symbols of purity. That’s why you can find white lilies beautifying events like weddings and baptisms.
Many Christians think the lily is linked to purity, and they often associate the flower with the Virgin Mary and her sexual purity at the time of Jesus’s birth. In some Christian art, Mary is depicted holding a white lily, symbolizing her purity, humility, and her role as the mother of Jesus.
The white lily’s association with the Virgin Mary extends to the story of the Annunciation, where Mary’s acceptance of God’s plan is seen as a pure and humble act. As a result, white lilies are frequently used as decorations during Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas, carrying a profound sense of spiritual significance.
Lily Symbolism by Flower Color
While we’ve covered the general symbolism of lilies above, remember that each color of lily holds a unique meaning. Learning the symbolism behind each color can help you choose the proper flower for each occasion.
The white lily symbolism mainly relates to purity, rebirth, innocence, and fertility. White lilies are common Easter flowers since they are symbols of Jesus’s resurrection. People often use these flowers at other events including baptisms, funerals, and weddings. White Easter lilies are also common occurrences.
Since the white lily flower meaning relates to rebirth, they’re also appropriate gifts for events related to big changes like the start of a new job, the finalization of a divorce, or a move to a new state.
Pink lilies are symbols of soft love, femininity, and sweetness. They don’t symbolize the passionate romance that exists between lovers, but rather the type of pure love that occurs between a parent and child or two close friends.
Therefore, pink lilies make great gifts for friends’ birthdays or anytime a loved one needs a pick-me-up. They’re also related to happiness and joy, so they’re great gifts for people who are going through a tough time.
Red is the color of passion and romance. While a red rose is the most iconic symbol of passionate love, you can also swap out some of these flowers for red lilies.
Since red lilies symbolize romantic love, they’re best reserved for occasions when you want to let strong feelings known. Try giving red lilies to your spouse on your wedding anniversary or handing a bouquet to your partner on Valentine’s Day.
With a bright and confident color, orange lilies symbolize positivity and a job well done. Many lilies come in orange variations, including daylilies and Turk’s cap lilies.
These orange flowers make great congratulatory gifts for occasions like gradations, new jobs, and new homes.
Cheerful and bright yellow lilies symbolize joy, happiness, and new beginnings. You can find yellow Asiatic and oriental lilies. Since these flowers are linked to feelings of happiness, they’re good gifts to wish someone a fast recovery or a happy birthday. And their tie to new beginnings means they’re great options for occasions like the start of a new job or a housewarming party.
Continue Exploring Flower Meanings
Now that you know lilies symbolize purity, rebirth, and fertility, it’s time to learn about the meaning behind other types of flowers. We’ve written up some helpful guides on orchid flower symbolism and lotus flower symbolism to help you get started.
After you’ve found a flower that allows you to send just the right message, it’s time to order a bouquet! The Bouqs Co. makes it easy to order sustainably sourced flowers online, so there’s no excuse why you shouldn’t send flowers to everyone on your list. Along with lily bouquets, we also carry arrangements that include sunflowers, ranunculus, tulips, and other types of your favorite flowers.Shop All