The daffodil symbolizes rebirth and new beginnings. It became associated with new beginnings (and the coming of spring) because it is one of the first perennials to bloom after the winter frost. Though daffodils do grow in shades of white and orange, they are best known for brightening up the garden with their cheery yellow hues.
The Latin name for daffodil is Narcissus. It is believed to be named after the son of the river god from Greek mythology. Narcissus was celebrated for his beauty, but he was arrogant. The goddess Nemesis noticed this and lured him to a pool where he fell in love with his own reflection.
Some sources say while he was staring at his reflection nymphs transformed him into a narcissus flower to get revenge for how he treated them. Others think he drowned trying to capture his reflection, and the flowers growing along the riverbed were named after him. Some even liken the nodding heads of daffodil flowers to Narcissus bending down and gazing at his reflection.
In England, daffodils are also known as lent lilies or lenten lilies as they typically bloom between Ash Wednesday and Easter. A.E. Housman, an English scholar and poet, even wrote a poem entitled “The Lent Lily” about this phenomenon.
And there’s the windflower chilly
With all the winds at play,
And there’s the Lenten lily
That has not long to stay
And dies on Easter day.
William Wordsworth, an English romantic poet, also references daffodils in his poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, painting a picture of a hill full of bright, dancing blooms.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
The daffodil is the National Flower of Wales. It’s bloom coincides with St. David’s Day, a celebration for the patron saint of Wales. Some associate the daffodil’s faithful rebloom with David’s faithfulness to his people.
Daffodils are also valued in China. They bloom around Chinese New Year, and symbolize good luck, prosperity, and good fortune. If the flowers bloom exactly on New Year’s day, it means that you will have good luck for the entire year.
Daffodils are often given on ten year wedding anniversaries to mean joy, cheerfulness, and happiness. They are the American Cancer Society representing hope for a cure and the March birth flower.
Chinese Mythology A to Z by Jeremy Roberts