With spring drawing closer, and flowers beginning to bloom, its the perfect time to review the Easter lily meaning and symbolism.
There are two floral Easter symbols: Easter lilies and dogwood trees. You can learn about the legend of the dogwood tree here.
Let’s jump right in and take a closer look at the Easter lily symbolism, their meaning and connection to the Easter holiday.
What do Easter lilies look like?
Easter lilies are a specific type of lily called lilium longiflorum. They have a central stalk, with dark green leaves coming off of it. The trumpet shaped lily flowers open at the top of the stalk.
Easter lilies can have as few as one flower, and as many as ten to fifteen flowers in well established plants.
If you purchase an Easter lily in flower, the blooms will only last a few weeks. However, this plant is a perennial, meaning if you take proper care of your Easter lily, it will come back year after year!
Easter lilies are not to be confused with daylilies, which, despite their name are not actually a true lily.
Daylilies have long blade-like leaves that grow from the ground, and the daylily flowers bloom from stalks which do not have leave on them.
Asiatic and Oriental lilies look similar to Easter lilies, as they have a central stalk with leaving growing out of it, and flowers blooming at the top.
However, both Asiatic and Oriental lilies come in a brighter and wider range of colors than Easter lilies.
Easter lily colors
The most common Easter lily color is white. The other Easter lily colors are muted tones of pink, peach, yellow and cream. Some Easter lilies are white with pale pink centers.
Each Easter lily variety has its own name. Some popular varieties of white Easter lilies are “Nellie White”, “White Heaven” and “Miracle Dwarf Longiflorum Lily”.
Two varieties of white Easter lilies with pink centers are the “Triumphator” Lily and “White Elegance” Lily.
If you’d like one of the pastel Easter lily colors that isn’t white, try looking for the “Elegant Lady” also called the Pink Easter Lily, and the “Deliana” Lily which has pale yellow flowers.
Easter lily symbolism
Easter lily symbolism appears frequently in Christianity. Easter lilies symbolize purity, hope, innocence, and virtue.
They represent the purity of Jesus, who was free from sin. Easter lilies are also a symbol of the Virgin Mary.
Easter lilies appear in religious art during The Annunciation, where the Angel Gabriel informs the Virgin Mary she will give birth to the son of God, named Jesus.
In art about The Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, the lilies are either shown in a vase or in the hand of the Angel Gabriel.
Meaning of the Easter lily
The meaning of the Easter lily is tied the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The trumpet shape of the Easter lily represent the trumpets that announced his resurrection.
Also called the “white robed apostles of hope”, Easter lilies are believed to have sprouted many times throughout Christian stories.
White lilies are believed to have grown from the spots where Jesus’s blood and tears fell after the Agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.
It is also said that white lilies sprung up in Golgotha, the location of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.
In the Garden of Eden, Eve’s remorseful tears are believed to have formed lilies upon contact with the earth.
Lilies in the bible meaning
Lilies in the bible are used as a teaching tool. They are mentioned in Matthew 6:28 and Luke 12:27. It is in these passages where God asks his disciples to “consider the lilies in the field”.
This passages encourages God’s followers not to worry about material possessions and needs. The passages say that God will provide for all His followers, just as He did for the lilies in the field.
It asks for faith in God’s ability to provide, and encourages releasing worry about matters in His hands.
Lilies are one of only three flowers mentioned in the bible. The other two flowers mentioned are roses, and crocus (a member of the Iris family).
Easter lily meaning
The Christian feast day of Easter is the perfect time to reflect on the Easter lily meaning, as these beautiful, symbolic, flowers are frequently found during this holiday season.
The Easter lily meaning is to serve as a reminder of the purity, innocence and virtue of Jesus. They also represent his sacrifice, and are a symbolic representation of his resurrection.
The meaning of the Easter lily is also a reminder to have hope that miracles can happen, as is evident from Jesus’s resurrection.
The Origin of the Milky Way
The Easter lily appears in Greek and Roman mythology. It is depicted in the oil painting, made by Jacopo Tintoretto in 1575, titled The Origin of the Milky Way.
Jupiter (the king of the gods) and Alcmeme (a mortal) had a son named Hercules. Jupiter wanted his son to become immortal so put him to the breast of his wife, the goddess Juno, while she was sleeping.
When Juno awoke, and pulled away from the baby, spraying breast milk to the sky. The milk that landed in the sky formed the milky way, and the milk that fell to the ground sprouted lilies from its contact.
Irish Easter lily
You may have heard of the Irish Easter lily. This is different than the traditional Easter lily. During the holiday season, Irish Easter lily badges are worn in Ireland.
These “Easter lily” badges are actually in the shape of calla lilies. They remember the Irish republicans who died during and after the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland.
Ireland has a long history of wearing symbols of Irish pride and support for the Irish nationalist movement. A great example of this is wearing green for St. Patrick’s Day.
Other traditional Easter flowers
If you enjoyed learning about the Easter lily meaning, and want to add other traditional Easter flowers to your holiday celebrations, check out the ones below.
Many of the springtime flowers listed below grow from bulbs. It’s no surprise that the first flowers to be reborn after winter are traditional Easter flowers, as Easter is all about celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.
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- Daffodils – Also called “Lent lilies” in England and “Easter bells” in Germany, they bloom around Ash Wednesday and stay in flower until Easter.
- Easter cactus – The name says it all! This cactus (not to be confused with the Christmas cactus or Thanksgiving cactus) blooms during Easter.
- Hellebores – Also called Lenten roses, Christmas roses, and winter roses, this early blooming spring flower symbolizes rebirth.
- Crocus – As it is one of only three flowers in the bible, it makes sense that the crocus is a traditional Easter flower.
- Orchids – The red spots on some orchids are said to represent the blood of Christ. Check out our orchid gallery for National Orchid Day to see photos of this floral symbolism.
- Tulips – This spring flower has bell shaped blooms, which are reminiscent of the curved shape of easter eggs, another symbol of Easter.
- Daisies – A symbol of innocence and purity, this spring flower mirrors some of the qualities prized in Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
- Iris – This flower is named after the Greek goddess of rainbows, Iris. Rainbows symbolize hope in times of darkness, which mirrors the theme of rebirth during Easter.
- Baby’s breath – Symbolizing innocence and purity, this small white flower represents the Christ child.
Some of the flowers above have a connection with Lent (e.g. daffodils, hellebores). If you’re curious about Lent, and pre-Lenten festivities, make sure you check out our posts on Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras is a Christian feast day that occurs immediately before Lent. Like Easter, Mardi Gras has its own set of holiday symbols.
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Looking for more Easter themed posts?
If you enjoyed learning these facts about Easter lily symbolism and the meaning of the Easter lily, be sure to check out these posts with Easter decor and recipes!
- Peeps centerpiece (pictured above) – A perfect tabletop decoration, this centerpiece is filled with peeps, candy grass, robin eggs and m&ms!
- Traditional Easter breads – Check out these ten recipes for Easter breads from around the world.
- Hot cross buns history – Learn more about this Easter bread with its their own national day and get a homemade hot cross bun recipe with rum-soaked raisins and an orange glaze!
- Easter birds nest cupcakes – These cupcakes are almost too cute to eat! If you still want a birds nest themed recipe, but don’t want to use the oven, try our no-bake Easter cookies.
- Midnight Kiss Cocktail – This Easter cocktail is perfect for the holiday. It’s garnished with candy and marshmallows!
- Printable for Easter – Get our free Easter printable to add to your Easter decor this year!
- Easter bunny gift bag – This adorable gift bag is in the shape of an Easter bunny. Don’t forget to put an Easter gift tag label on it.
At Always the Holidays, we love celebrating by decorating for the holidays. If you do too, make sure to check out our post on farmhouse Easter decor.
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About the author
Since graduating from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jess has been living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She is a freelance writer, specializing in content related to fashion, food and drink and film industry topics. Find out more about Jess here.
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