‘lilium’ a Latin term considered to be one of the first words for flower. Traced back to 1580 B.C., with images of lilies discovered in a villa in Crete, the blooms have long held a role in mythology. The Greeks even believed it sprouted from the milk of Hera, the queen of the gods. The Greeks and Roman included the lily in many religious myths and ceremonies and cultivated the flower extensively.
Unlike most other flowers, the lily never goes dormant and grows natively all over the world. This strength combined with its beauty, have made it a favourite in stories in many cultures.
In Christian faith, white lilies have been used to represent the Virgin Mary, becoming a Christian symbol of purity. Medicine in Medieval times used the mashed roots of the Madonna Lily to heal skin ulcers and sooth sore tendons, whilst Traditional Chinese Medicine uses various lily varieties to produce a cooling effect on the body. In present day China, the lily is in high demand for weddings as its name is similar to a phrase used to wish the newlyweds happiness for a century. It is also said to help relieve heartache and is given to people that have experienced recent loss.
The lily is also used as the symbol of European royalty, stylised into the well-known fleur de lis and is commonly recognised as being a regal symbol. White lilies are used as a symbol of purity, the striped pink Stargazer Lily is often given as encouragement during difficult times, yellow for good health, whilst red can be used for weddings and proposals.
Lilies are generally the flowers most often associated with funerals, with white specifically used to symbolise that the soul of the departed has experienced restored innocence after death.