What is Calla Lilies Meaning, History and Tradition?


There are lots of flowers out there, but how many have a unique flower form? Calla is derived from the Greek word for beauty. The flower consists of inner and outer parts. The inner part is has a yellow spike in the center called the spadix, while the outer part is called the spathe. Calla lilies are rich in meaning and history. White calla lilies make a magnificent hand bouquet and are considered a good luck charm as a flower for wedding, I am sure many brides agree with these, but what do these flowers truly represent?

Meaning of Calla Lilies

First of all, you should note that the appellation, “calla lily” is a misleading term. This is because calla lilies are not considered true lilies. This proliferative mistake was started by Carolus Linnaeus. Let us learn a little botany here. The calla lily belongs to the genus, Zantedeschia, and the family, Araceae. It is less commonly known as trumpet lily, arum lily, and pig lily.

Calla lilies have an interesting mythological history. In Greek mythology, they are believed to have come from Hera, an ancient god, who was the wife of Zeus. Zeus brought Hercules to suckle from his wife while she was asleep. It was his desire that his son should possess the strength of the gods. Hera awoke and pushed the baby away from her. This made drops of milk to splash across the sky, forming the Milky Way. Everywhere these drops landed on the earth, calla lilies bloomed.

In Roman mythology, Venus saw the flower and envied the radiance and beauty of the pure white blossom. She then cursed it with an unattractive pistil.

The most common meaning for calla lilies is spotlessness, holiness, and faithfulness. This is illustrated in images of the Virgin Mary. They are symbols of rebirth and resurrection, partly because their blooms coincide with the period of the year when Jesus Christ resurrected, and also because they are shaped like trumpets, which send a message of triumph. Calla lilies are used on different occasions, but most commonly in weddings and funerals. Moreover, the cone-line flowers fully blossom in late spring and are emblems of youth and vigor. Most people come across this flower when beautifying for Easter, or when using a live plant as the gift of choice during the holiday.

Calla lilies are native to Africa, more specifically, areas around South Africa and Malawi. This means that they require warm temperatures and adequate water.

Modern History of Calla Lilies

The history is tied to the meaning. Calla lilies are demonstrated in an illustration from the 1664 illustration of the Royal Garden of Paris. It was in the 18th century that the Swedish botanist, Linnaeus made the mistake of giving them the wrong name. In the 20th century, calla lilies became very popular in the United States. They became a popular part in the American art, especially as Georgia O’Keeffe used them a lot in several of her famous paintings, often portraying close-ups of the flower.

Colours Available for Calla Lilies

If you happen to visit a comprehensive flower shop in Singapore and look for calla lilies you are sure to find their wide variety of calla lilies they have in store.  They come in a variety of colours. Pink, yellow, purple, and black colours exist, but white is the most common colour. The different colours come along with their different meanings:

  • White calla lilies: As aforementioned, they are symbols of purity, marital bliss, and innocence.
  • Purple calla lilies: they symbolize passion and appeal.
  • Pink calla lilies: They are for appreciation and admiration.
  • Lavender and light blue calla lilies: They deliver a sense of grace and refined beauty.
  • Yellow calla lilies: They convey gratitude to the recipient of the gift.
  • Black calla lilies: They have a dramatic appearance and carry elegance and mystery.
  • Red calla lilies: They represent beauty and courage.

In summary, calla lilies represent:

  • Splendid and wonderful beauty in the Victorian language of flowers and in ancient Greek and Roman mythologies.
  • Resurrection and rebirth, especially because the plant comes back year after year, following the winter.
  • Faith, holiness, and purity, mostly in the Christian religion.
  • The ability to withstand adversity and overcome challenges. This is because when cut, the flowers start growing back in a vase and survive the frost.
  • Youthful energy and liveliness.

Common traditions with the calla lily

Calla lilies mark the 6th wedding anniversary. They are also used as funeral flowers where they represent a fellow feeling, sympathy, and the purification of a departed soul. The major themes they are used in are transitions, reawakening, and new beginnings. Its ivory white petals and lavish green leaves that are shaped like an arrowhead make this elegant bloom a spectacle.

It is only appropriate that such significant flowers should be given all the attention and care that they deserve. Protect them from all the frost you can, keep them in cool areas that are optimal for their growth, fertilize each month, ensure proper hydration levels. After you have done all this, you can now sit back and enjoy everything that they are and that they bring.

Note that calla lilies are very toxic and therefore, must not be ingested. Only use them for beautifying your landscape, brightening your water garden, or rounding up a bouquet.

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