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Easter flower history and culture

Easter Flower

Easter Flower 'pussy willow'
Pussy Willow (Salix discolor)
Click picture to enlarge 
The Easter Flower
The traditional Easter Flower is the lily. The white lily is a symbol of purity. The single flower stem coming up from a bulb represents Christ coming back to life 3 days after his crucifixion.

Different countries have different Easter flowers. In the UK and Russia (probably the only tradition we have in common!), the pussy willow is 'the' Easter Flower. In fact the most ancient association of Easter and a particular flower is with the narcissus. This is still the tradition in parts of Europe.

Origin of Easter
The word Easter is derived from the the ancient Anglo Saxon goddess 'Eostre' (sometimes spelt 'Eastre'). Eostre was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxons in Northern Europe. 

Lily Easter Flower
White lily - Easter Flower. CLICK TO ENLARGE. If you choose to buy a white lily as your Easter Flower, choose one that has several unopened buds and leaves along the stem. When the lily is inside your house, the buds and leaves will open and stay fresher for longer. The proportions of the plant to the pot should ideally be that the lily is about twice the height of the pot.

Caring for your Easter lily is relatively simple. Keep the soil moist but not water-logged is the most important rule. Then keep the plant in a light airy and cool position (not more than 70F or 21C). One trick which will prolong the life of the flowers is to remove the yellow, pollen-bearing pods or anthers in the centre of each flower.

In order to get the lily to flower at this time of year, the growers have 'forced' it and this means that your Easter Flower is unlikely to flower again - shame! However, it is worth planting it outside in May in a protected position. It could possibly come into flower again in two years time. The process for doing this is to keep it indoors until the beginning of May by which time the foliage will have turned brown. Cut the stem off completely at soil level and plant the bulb outside. The planting depth is important - plant the base of the bulb about 13 cm (5 inches) deep and cover with soil. 

Other Easter Flowers
Daffodil 'passionale' - another Easter flower. If you are not so keen on lilies or pussy willow don't worry. Other flowers which are commonly given at Easter are daffodils, tulips and even some red flowers which in Germany represent the blood of Christ. 

The picture on the left (click to enlarge) is the daffodil variety 'passionale'. 

A very common question about Easter Day is why does the date change so much year by year? This is because Easter is calculated as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after March 21 - so now you know!