One of the things that I love around Imbolc is the first appearance of the Snowdrop. These flowers tell me that Mother Nature/Gaia is starting to stir deep beneath the soil, heralding the Spring. The Snowdrop is a small delicate white flower that peers through long green leaves, sometimes seen alone, but more often it is seen in small clutches among the frozen fallen leaves of Autumn.
The Etymological Meaning of the Snowdrop
Carl Linnaeus first classified the Snowdrop in 1753. The Latin name for the Snowdrop is Galanthus Nivalis which is a combination of the Greek word Galanthus meaning Milk White Flower and the Latin word Nivalis meaning Resembling Snow.
The Meaning of the Snowdrop
The Snowdrop has several meanings depending on the context, but the most common meanings are:
The Return of Spring
Consolation or Sympathy
Myths and Legends about the Snowdrop.
The Snowdrop has enjoyed a long and storied life, there are many stories and legends of how the flower first came into being; below are some of my favorites.
The Garden of Eden – According to legend, after Eve was cast out of the Garden of Eden, God sent forth flurries of continuous snow, making the Earth cold and barren. Eve was utterly bereft after being sent from paradise, one day as Eve sat weeping an Angel appeared before her. The Angel caught a falling snowflake and breathed on it, the snowflake fluttered to the ground and gave birth to the very first Snowdrop. This delicate bloom became a symbol of hope, rebirth, and the promise of new things.
German Legend – When God created snow, he gave it the very important task of visiting all the flowers on Earth to gather their color. All the flowers of the world refused to give snow their color, until snow came to the gentle Snowdrop. The flower and Snow made an agreement, in return for giving snow its color, the Snowdrop was allowed to be the first flower to bloom, heralding the promise of Spring. Today the Snowdrop blooms amid the snow.
Moldovan Legend – According to this Moldovan legend, a fight between the Winter Witch and Lady Spring gave birth to the Snowdrop. One year the Winter Witch decided that she want to give up her rule of the Earth to the Lady of Spring. The Lady of Spring wasn’t best happy, and the ensuing battle she pricked her finger, a single drop of blood fell to the soil. The blood of Lady Spring melted the snow, a tiny Snowdrop peaked through the frozen earth. This signaled that Lady Spring had won her battle against the Winter Witch.
Romanian Legend – According to this Legend from Romania, each year the Sun took on the form of a young girl as it returned to warm the lands below for the Spring. One year, Winter refused to let go of their grip on the land, taking the young girl hostage. Soon a hero came forth to rescue his great love and a battle ensued. The young girl was set free but not before the hero was wounded. As the Sun began to rise to the sky, the hero fell to the ground, drops of his blood staining the Earth. Where blood fell, Snowdrops sprang forth from the ground in celebration of Spring’s return. The people of Romania still hold the Snowdrop as a symbol of Spring returning. Victorian Custom – The Victorians like to be a little different from most cultures, they did not see the Snowdrop as a symbol for hop or rebirth, they saw it as a bad omen, and was very unlucky if you were to bring it in the house. I know my Mum has said that to me many times over the years. It was believed that the sight of a single snowdrop was an omen of death.
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