Sunday, February 20, 2011

Snowdrop and Sweet Violet in Mary-Legends


Galanthus nivalis
Many flowers changed their names at the arrival of Christianity to the North. All aromatic flowers were in the Middle Ages called violets. Snowdrop was a white violet, and the white shade was a symbol of purity. In the Christian church it became the memory of the day, where Mary brought Christ to the temple. But before this much superstition was attached to this flower. Since it was the first flower breaking through the black soil, it was said to be magical, and people had to treat it carefully. If the flower was plucked and brought indoors, it might foresay death or other evils. Another legend said that when Adam and Eve were driven out from the Garden of Eden they came to a cold and dark place, and Eve was disconsolate, until an angel showed, caught a snowflake and blew on it, changing it into a white flower.

Sweet violet/Martsviol
Viola odorata
The sweet violet is together with lily and rose among the three noblest flowers. It is a symbol of Mary's humility,  and although other flowers were named violets in the Middle Ages the sweet violet is the one, which is most valued for its scent and colour. The humble sweet violet has the colour of Mary's royal robe.  The violet was used in cosmetics and perfume.

A Christian legend says that when Virgin Mary recieved the message about the birth of Christ, the archangel Gabriel came with a lily in his hand - and behind Mary grew a rose bush, but just outside her window stood the little sweet violet, who heard that Mary said: "Look, I am the Lord's handmaid." The archangel blessed the flowers, before he disappeared - and the flowers then got their lovely scent. Another legend says that the flower bowed their heads, when the shadow of the cross fell upon them, and since then they have been standing with bowed heads.

Source: Anemette Olesen, Marias Planter, Himlen ned på Jorden, 2007.

photo 2008: grethe bachmann


Teresa Evangeline said...

It's interesting, how many things seem to have been parlayed into a "Christian" legend. The white snowdrops look very much like what I refer to as forget-me-nots. I knew a woman who, in her later years, crawled along the ground and gathered violets for jelly. Good jelly, but a lot of work. :) Love the thought about mosquitoes...

Thyra said...

Hello Teresa! Do you know candiced violets? They have a very fine taste - and they are fine in fx cakes - or as a decoration on cakes.

Teresa Evangeline said...

That sounds tasty, and beautiful. They would make a fine decoration. I will keep that in mind... :)