Given their many colors, sizes, shapes and smells, flowers have been used as a means to communicate for centuries. But different flowers have different meanings, and sending the wrong flower can send a message never intended. Daffodils are one such flower, and presenting a bunch of daffodils as opposed to a single long stem can send the wrong signal. The following is a brief summary on the many diverse meanings of the daffodil.
Daffodils as Legend
Botanically known as the narcissus, the daffodil–or jonquil in the United Kingdom–was named after an egotistical Greek god, Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. So enamored was he that he fell in and promptly drowned. To honor his memory, the other gods decorated the water’s edge with blooming daffodils, forever associating the lovely flower with vanity.
Daffodils as a Sign of Wealth
Thanks to hybridization, roughly 13,000 types of daffodils exist today, but that wasn’t always the case. For centuries the flowers grew wild and overlooked in England, but as tulip mania hit Europe in the early 1600s, English gardeners quickly recognized the potential value of daffodil bulbs, too, and began transplanting them into their gardens. As its popularity grew, the daffodil bulb, much like the tulip, became a symbol of wealth and prosperity. But present the flower only in a bunch. Given its propensity to bloom in multi-stemmed masses, a single daffodil given as a gift represents misfortune.
Daffodils as a Herald of Spring
In yet another Greek legend, Hades captured the lovely Persephone, dragging her off to the underworld and plunging the world into winter in his wake. When Persephone was finally allowed to return in the spring, she brought with her daffodils, thus linking the flower to the season and making the daffodil a perfect symbol for celebrating rebirth and new beginnings.
Daffodils as a Birth Flower
When Persephone returned with her lovely daffodils, ushering in spring, she also ushered in hope. As a result, we now recognize daffodils as the birth flower for the month of March. The daffodil is also recognized as a symbol for 10th wedding anniversaries, because its associations with hope and spring also make it a perfect symbol for rekindling love.
Daffodils as Tradition
Given its associations with wealth, prosperity and rebirth, the daffodil can be found at the center of many traditions throughout the world. Be the first to find a blooming daffodil in Wales and you can look forward to a year of wealth. Not content to leave your prosperity to chance? Then force a daffodil bulb to bloom in China on the New Year and you can look forward to 12 months of good fortune.