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Hyacinths are seen by many as a symbol that Spring is on its way. These delicate flowers come in a full range of colors – white, red, yellow, pink, purple, orange, green, or multi-colored.
Hyacinthias originate from Turkey and love the warm weather. In the 16th century, they were discovered by botany lovers and brought to Europe. They were so rare, however, that they could only be found in half a dozen gardens across the continent.
Now, they are one of Europe’s favorite flowers and are grown in large numbers in the Netherlands.
Over the years that Hyacinths have been gifted, their meanings have changed. Where once they were quite a negative gift to receive. They are now a cause for celebration, joy, and peace.
Flowers of the Sun God
As we mentioned, Hyacinths are seen by many as the first sign of Spring. So, it is not surprising that the Greeks saw Hyacinths as Apollo’s flower. Apollo was their sun god and seeing the Hyacinths in bloom indicated that he was returning after a cold winter.
The flowers of a Hyacinth are petite, delicate, and gorgeous – so you may think that they symbolize beautiful and happy feelings. Well, you’d be very wrong about that.
Symbols of Jealousy (Original Symbol)
If you know anything about the Victorians you will know that they loved to assign meanings and symbols to items – flowers were no different.
Despite their lovely appearance, Hyacinths actually had two pretty grim symbols assigned to them.
The first symbol may have originally been laced with a little bit of sarcasm, but it’s hard to tell. If you were to give someone a yellow Hyacinth, it meant that you were jealous of them.
For example, if you gave a friend a yellow Hyacinth after they got engaged, you were implying that you were frustrated they got engaged before you.
This passive aggressiveness really sums up the Victorian attitude to gifting flowers.
Symbols of Mourning (Original Symbol)
The second symbol of Hyacinths was mourning.
It was not uncommon for widows to be gifted bouquets of white Hyacinths at funerals and in the years following.
It was also noted that if you saw a house that had the flower planted in their front garden, that they had recently lost a member of the household.
Symbol of Royalty (Original Symbol)
The Victorians saw the rich purple colors of Hyacinths’ petals as something spiritual and impressive.
For this reason, purple Hyacinths were often gifted as a sign of respect. They were also used to request forgiveness. And where often given to mean both – i.e. the person you are giving the flowers to deserved better and you are asking for their forgiveness.
Meaning – Beauty (New Symbol)
Over the years, many of these assigned meanings have been lost. Hyacinths have gone through something of a rebranding and now are aligned with a lot more positive symbols and meanings.
Pink, yellow, and purple Hyacinths are now used to celebrate the beauty and new life. They are often given to new mothers after the birth of their child. They are also given to celebrate new beginnings like the start of an event or moving house.
Meaning – Peace
White Hyacinths are reminiscent of an untouched field of snow. They are soft, delicate, and serene. It is no wonder that they are now given as a gift to represent peace.
Reasons to give white Hyacinths include – when starting a new job or when recovering in hospital.
This new meaning is supposed to have originated in the Christian church. Spring is an important time in their calendar where many Christians meditate on peace and the meaning of life.
Meaning – Power
Finally, Hyacinths are now often given as a gift to celebrate new achievements. This is similar to the gifting of yellow Hyacinths in the Victorian era (but without the jealousy and underlying sarcasm).
The word power is used in this instance to mean achievement and advancement. Therefore Hyacinths of any color make a great gift for those who have just been promoted, started a new business, or even won a competition.