Lily is one the most famous Easter icons, apart from egg and bunny. The beautiful trumpet-shaped white lily flowers symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life which are the true spiritual essence of Easter. History, mythology, literature, poetry and the world of art are all filled with stories and images that speak about the beauty and majesty of the elegant white flowers. Since times immemorial, lilies have played a significant role regarding the sacrament of motherhood. The pure white lily has also been associated with the Virgin Mary.
Paintings show the Angel Gabriel extending a branch of pure white lilies to Virgin Mary, thereby announcing that she is to be the mother of Christ. Other paintings also depict saints bringing vases full of lilies to Mary and infant Jesus. Over the years, lily has acquired great importance as one of the most popular icons of Easter. In America, the popularity of lily as Easter icon dates back to the 18th century. As Easter observances by the Protestants in America grew, so did the popularity of lily. Although it took some time to find a widespread acceptance, but it picked up slowly with imports.
It was Ms. Thomas P Sargent, who introduced the 'Bermuda lily' in the States in the 1880s. A nurseryman, William Harris, of Philadelphia promoted its popularity among other florists. Subsequent to this, it did not take long for the lily to attract the attention of millions and win their hearts. With the passage of time, the lily became the main flower of Easter floral arrangements. Today, the lilies are found gracing millions of homes and churches on Easter as they embody joy, hope and life. They are indeed a true gift of nature and enjoy a great favor in being included as an important item of church decorations.
The spiritual essence of the Easter lily is well captured by a poem written by Louise Lewin Matthews:
Easter morn with lilies fair
Fills the church with perfumes rare,
As their clouds of incense rise,
Sweetest offerings to the skies.
Stately lilies pure and white
Flooding darkness with their light,
Bloom and sorrow drifts away,
On this holy hallow'd day.
Easter Lilies bending low
in the golden afterglow,
Bear a message from the sod
To the heavenly towers of God.
Easter lily is one of the popular Easter icons. Easter lilies also form a part of Easter decoration flowers.