Flowers play an important role during Easter time. Lily plants can be found on the altar and in many homes, with the beautiful trumpet-shaped white flowers symbolizing purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life – the spiritual essence of Easter. But, few people know how these flowers came to play their part for the holiday. Easter lilies are native to the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan, and the islands of Okinawa, Amani and Erabu. The flowers were introduced to England in 1819. In 1853 a Japanese missionary gave it to a friend in St. George, Bermuda who later marketed it. The Bermuda lily was introduced to America in 1880, but a severe virus in 1898 ruined the Bermuda lily industry. Lily bulb production came to the U. S. in the late 1800s, and was centered in both Japan and the southern U. S. after 1898. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Japanese source of bulbs was cut off. As a result, the value of lily bulbs greatly increased and many people who were growing lilies as a hobby went into business. The Easter lily bulbs at that time were called \”White Gold,\” and growers everywhere attempted to cash in on the crop. By 1945, there were around 1,200 growers up and down the Pacific coast, from Vancouver, Canada to Long Beach, California. Over the years, the number of Easter lily bulb producers diminished to just ten farms in an isolated coastal region on the Oregon-California border called the Easter Lily Capital of the World. Lilies themselves can be found mentioned prominently in the Bible. When Eve left the Garden of Eden she shed real tears of repentance, and from those remorseful tears sprung up lilies. Often called the Бwhite-robed apostles of hopeБ lilies were also found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ\’s crucifixtion.
White lilies are said to have sprung up where drops of Christ\’s sweat fell to the ground from the cross. Traditionally, Easter Lilies are arranged in churches, to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. One of the greatest challenges for Easter lily producers today is to get all the plants to bloom at the same time and just in time for Easter! This is especially difficult because Easter comes at a different date each year. Growers measure the progress of Easter lilies every day. They look for certain signs of development, such as when the first flower buds appear, the number of new leaves that unfold everyday, and the height of the plants. These progressions determine whether or not the plants will be ready for sale at just the right time. For example, by counting the leaves on each plant, growers can predict how many days until that plant will flower. If the plants are growing too slowly, or too fast, the grower must adjust the humidity and temperature of the greenhouse. If some plants develop faster than others, those plants may have to be placed in a cooler until the other plants catch up. Nowadays, other flowers have come to be associated with Easter, such as tulips, iris, gerbera, and even roses. Generally, spring time colors such as yellow and orange are popular. By the way, did you know that Easter lilies can be planted out side and will flower each summer?
T he Easter Lily. For many, the beautiful trumpet-shaped white flowers symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and lifethe spiritual essence of Easter. H istory, mythology, literature, poetry and the world of art are rife with stories and images that speak of the beauty and majesty of the elegant white flowers.
Often called the white-robed apostles of hope, lilies were found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christs agony. Tradition has it that the beautiful white lilies sprung up where drops of Christs sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow and deep distress. Churches continue this tradition at Easter time by banking their altars and surrounding their crosses with masses of Easter Lilies, to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and hope of life everlasting. S ince the beginning of time, lilies have played significant roles in allegorical tales concerning the sacrament of motherhood. Roman mythology links it to Juno, the queen of the gods. The story goes that while Juno was nursing her son Hercules, excess milk fell from the sky. Although part of it remained above the earth (thus creating the group of stars known as the Milky Way), the remainder fell to the earth, creating lilies. Another tradition has it that the lily sprang from the repentant tears of Eve as she went forth from Paradise. T he pure white lily has long been closely associated with the Virgin Mary. In early paintings, the Angel Gabriel is pictured extending to the Virgin Mary a branch of pure white lilies, announcing that she is to be the mother of the Christ Child. In other paintings, saints are pictured bringing vases full of white lilies to Mary and the infant Jesus. St. Joseph is depicted holding a lily-branch in his hand, indicating that his wife Mary was a virgin. T he legend is told that when the Virgin Marys tomb was visited three days after her burial, it was found empty save for bunches of majestic white lilies.
Early writers and artists made the lily the emblem of the Annunciation, the Resurrection of the Virgin: the pure white petals signifying her spotless body and the golden anthers her soul glowing with heavenly light. A mark of purity and grace throughout the ages, the regal white lily is a fitting symbol of the greater meaning of Easter. Gracing millions of homes and churches, the flowers embody joy, hope and life. Whether given as a gift or enjoyed in your own home, the Easter Lily, along with other, serves as a beautiful reminder that Easter is a time for rejoicing and celebrating. D uring the Victorian era, however, the very conspicuous stamens and pistils were removed because they were seen as overt symbols of sexuality that might move the congregation to impure thoughts (Sara Williams). T Fills the church with perfumes rare, As their clouds of incense rise, Sweetest offerings to the skies. Flooding darkness with their light, Bloom and sorrow drifts away, On this holy hallowd day. in the golden afterglow, To the heavenly towers of God. Sources: from compiled by Ivor H Evans. Harper Row, 1989, p. 663 Thoughts on the Easter Lily Rightly the lily is the flower of Easter. It lies buried in the ooze of pond or stream. There is nothing in the grave of the dead lily that appeals to nostril or eye. But silently the forces of life are working in the dark and the damp to prepare a glorious resurrection. A shaft of green shoots upward toward the sun. This is followed by a cluster of tiny buds. One day the sun smiles with special warmth upon the dank, black ooze, and there leaps into the light a creature of light and beauty; it is the lily, an angel of the earth, whose look is light.