10 heralds of spring in Croatia
Early spring is the time of a new vegetation cycle, accordingly, the first heralds of spring appear, which is true refreshment after the winter period. Heralds of spring are valuable for the ecosystem because they represent an important source of nectar and pollen for insects. Fruits of nature and its cycles have always had a symbolic connotation for the folk. Humans have established a special relationship with plants and natural phenomena by giving them symbolic meaning. Flowers, which primarily plays an important role in maintaining ecosystems for humans has also an aesthetic, symbolic, and creative meaning. Flowers are part of our lives 'from cradle to grave'. This article deals with 10 heralds of spring in Croatia and explains their symbolism.
1. Wild Primerose plugs (lat. Primula vulgaris) for sweet love
''First and true'' - as the original Latin name of this flower says. It appears among the first spring flowers and it represents initial love, pleasure and youth. The ancient Celts believed that at the beginning of spring Druids have to pick up first Primerose so that flowers do not lose its healing power. The message "I can not live without you" can be subtly sent through Wild Primerose because it symbolizes initial love for which we frequently lose our head. British name of wild Primerose is also ''Key flower'', because it looks like keys when it turns upside down, and this has led to an association with St. Peter and hence. The Central European folklore says that Wild Primerose shows the way to the hidden treasure - is it a treasure of spiritual nature maybe? Christianity says that it is a universal flower which stands on the path to mercy. Wreath of primroses in medieval times symbolized the purity of the souls in paradise, but if a sinner passes a Primrose he will receive mercy and a chance for redemption.
2. Snowdrop Flower (grč. Galanthus lat. nivalis) - snowflake that will not melt
It grows in February with the first indications of warm weather. Because of its symbolism, snowdrop flower is also called the flower of purification, why so? Other name of Snowdrop flower is Candlemas Bells because it grows in the period of a candle feast according to the Catholic calendar. This flower symbolizes Mary's purity, humility and devotion to God (because its head hanging above the ground) – that's why it is used for the ceremony.
Original name Galanthus nivalis – ''milky'' flower comes from the Greek words gala and anthos which means milk and flower, a Latin adjective meaning nivalis – white as snow. Croatian name ''visibaba'' (hanging grandmother) got because bend position of it's head. This interesting spring herald is a protected species and it is not allowed to pick it up in larger quantities. It's a pity to pick them up anyway because their purpose is to adorn nature, and not our homes, what do you think?
3. Forget me not flower (lat. Myosotis palustris) for persistent promises
In many world languages (English, Italian, French, German, Swedish, Japanese and Chinese) this flower is called "forget me not". We call it ''potočnica'' (little stream flower) because it grows near the streams. In many cultures (especially in the Christian tradition) Forget me not flower is linked with permanence and loyalty to true spiritual values. It's a symbol for immaterial treasure and humility. It represents human's basic need for bonding and durability of love. On the other hand, the original name represents something simpler - the Latin name of the genus mysotis comes from the Greek words mys I ous – which means mouse and ear because its petals look like the mouse ear, and palustris forest – because it grows near forests.
4. Daffodil flower (lat. Narcissus) combines motives of death and eternal life, re-birth and transience.
The well-known myth about Narcissus - who fell in love with his own reflection is associated with Daffodil flower. That is why the symbolic meaning of this flower is linked to the love affection, pride and selfishness. Another version of the myth says that god of death and underworld - Had created daffodils in order to attract the goddess Persephone. This myth connects narcissus with possessiveness and jealousy - the dark side of love enthusiasm.
For Christianity, it symbolizes something completely different - purity of the Virgin Mary. Muslims links it with God's mercy and heavenly happiness because they think narcissus looks like a godlike eye. In some cultures, the daffodil is associated with funeral rituals (myth about Had?), but here, in our culture, it represents the awakening of life and nature.
5. Violet (lat. Viola) for encouragement
The symbol of courage, humility and secret love. Its intense smell made Afrodita fall in love with ugly and limping blacksmith god Hefest. That is why it reminds of the power of courage that helps us to overcome the obstacles and realize something that seems impossible. If we love someone secretly and we are afraid to admit it, then this flower might encourage us to declare our love to that person, if Hefest succeeded, why couldn't you do it too?
But why is this flower also linked with secret love? Zeus, chronically unfaithful to his wife - Hera, filled meadow violets to comfort his lover Io, which he turned into a juniper at the request of his wife Here. In our regions are most widespread purple varieties of Viola, but in nature, you can also found white Viola.
6. Anemone flower (lat. Anemone nemorosa) adorn meadows to the first breeze
Fragile short-lived anemone's petals bloom in early spring and the wind blows them easily. Because of that anemones symbolizes the transience of love passion and life in general. The name Anemone itself comes from the Greek word anemos that means the wind, which quickly blows the petals after it's blossom.
The symbolism of anemone flower is related to a myth about a short and forbidden romance between Aphrodite and Adonis. Ares's wife Aphrodite fell in love with Adonis. When Ares found it out, he decided to kill Adonis. Aphrodite used Adonis's blood for making the anemone flower in the honour to her forbidden and short love affair. Church has given a different connotation to anemone flower – it's meaning is linked to the blood of Christ that has fallen to redeem the human race. Anemone has remained a symbol of the transience of love passion and life.
7. Creeping buttercup flower (lat. Ranunculus) - Sun makes its petals look like they were gilded
The appearance of this flower is unpresentable at first sight. This plant grows in wet areas. Creeping buttercup flower's look is simple - as if it "dropped out" from a child's drawing. A real experience of this flower only arises when the sun comes out, then we see a golden yellow reflection of the petals that gleam the predominantly green views of its natural environment. That's why Croatian folk calls it ''golden flower''. This flower has no ability to transform such as dandelion, but sunlight makes it magical. The original Latin name of Creeping buttercup is Ranunculus – ''rana'' means frog. Why is its name linked to a frog? Because you can find that plant near fresh water - as well as frogs.
8. Saffron (lat. Crocus sativus) make meadows colourful
This little flower makes meadows and wood colourful. Its white and purple petals with orange-yellow pestle give contrast to green surroundings. This flower does not outgrow an average height of a blade of grass. Small but striking, trumpet shape with rounded petals. An intense spice is obtained from Saffron, but we do not use it in our traditional Croatian food. Here is best known as the natural decoration of meadows. It is not allowed to pick it up, so it can be the only decoration in its natural environment.
9. Spring snowflake flower (lat. Leucojum vernum) takes a nap in early spring
Our folk calls it ''the bell''. Its head leans over the ground when it comes out after a long winter period. Spring snowflake flower's petals are white, gentle, and recognizable by a green-yellow dot at the bottom. You can see it in the early spring, but also in summer because it grows again. It grows in the forests near wetlands and meadows that are rich in nitrogen.
Spring snowflake flower needs mild daylight and plenty of moisture. It is a green plant with a white head, so the British people call it a summer snowflake. It's a protected species, so you just have to watch it, but do not pick it up - rather take a picture of it.
10.Narcissus Paperwhite (lat. Narcissus tazzeta) - the flower is recognized by the smell
This lovable, humble flower belongs to the genus Narcissus. We already know a myth about the narcissus that symbolizes this flower. Narcissus Paperwhite variety is not so popular and cultivated so it is mostly seen in the wild. The flower is unfairly neglected because it is an interesting flower, simply beautiful, starry shape, yellow-white, with slightly bent head. The intense aroma will highlight its presence, but it can cause headaches.
Narcissus likes early spring sun, meadow in the hilly areas of coastal mountains, islands and rocky beaches nearby wood. Sometimes that flower can overgrowth underbrush in its surrounding, it can grow up to 80 cm.
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