Calla Lily Meaning

Unearth the hidden symbolism behind beautiful calla lilies.

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Calla Lillies welcome guests to your home with their sweet and majestic appearance.

Calla Lily

Calla Lillies welcome guests to your home with their sweet and majestic appearance.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Burpee

Image courtesy of Burpee

Discover the history behind the beauty as you explore calla lily meaning. These elegant blooms have a long and rich heritage that embraces almost contradictory symbolism. On the one hand, calla lily meaning expresses the idea of life and fertility, while on the other it’s a well-known symbol of death.  

One early calla lily meaning originates in ancient Greek culture, where the flower was thought to represent magnificent beauty. This origin stems from a tale regarding Hercules as a baby. His father, the Greek god Zeus, had conceived him with an earthly woman, which meant he would lack divine, supernatural powers. Zeus drugged his goddess wife Hera to trick her into nursing the baby Hercules (to give him divine powers).  

As the drug wore off, she came to her senses and flung the nursing baby from her. As she did so, some drops of her breast milk dropped to earth and sprouted to form calla lilies. The lilies were endued with god-like beauty, which made the goddess Venus jealous, so she cursed the blossom, resulting in the formation of the central spike inside the cupped bloom.  

The spike inside the calla lily flower is actually the true flower; the outer petal part is a type of leaf. The ancient Egyptians and Romans recognized the phallic nature of the inner spike. The Egyptian culture adopted a calla lily meaning of fertility, while the Romans focused on a calla lily meaning of sexuality.  

Both of these meanings come into play in the widespread use of calla lily flowers in weddings. The white petal represents the chasteness of the bride, while the inner spike symbolizes her expectation of fertility to come as she hopes to have children. Over time, the partnership of calla lilies and marriage have produced calla lily meanings of marital bliss and true devotion.  

The idea of chastity is further represented in the calla lily’s associations with the Virgin Mary. Throughout art history, the pairing of the calla lily and the Virgin Mary is unmistakable. Thus one series of calla lily meanings focuses on the concepts of holiness, faith and purity.  

White calla lily flowers are commonly used in Easter services and have come to represent resurrection and rebirth. This is also why calla lilies are a traditional choice for funeral arrangements and expressions of sympathy. Calla lily meaning at funerals also embraces the idea of purification of a departed soul, especially when the blooms are white in color. On old tombstones, if you see a drawing of a broken calla lily flower, it indicates someone who died before their time.  

White calla lilies also carry the meaning of innocence, while yellow blooms express gratitude. Pink calla lily meaning includes appreciation and admiration. Purple calla lilies signify passion. People give black calla lily blooms when they want to convey the idea of mystery and elegance.

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