Calla flower

The flower of the calla

The word calla comes from the Greek for “magnificent beauty” and, no other name could be so suitable for the calla in bloom. Calla lily is a lily-like flower and in its variety of white it has often been associated with the Virgin Mary and the symbol of chastity she embodies. Contrary to this meaning, the Romans had combined the phallic shape of the calla pistil with the erotic meanings of lust and sexuality. Both of these meanings meet in the tradition that sees, the calla, as the flower of marriage. On that day, the flower symbolizes the virginal purity of the bride, represented by the pure white color, combined with the wish for a fertile life. The calla is also used as a flower in funerals and on the graves of those who are thought to have died prematurely.

Origins and traditions

The calla is a flower native to South Africa and its strengths are its high versatility and resistance. This flower manages to survive in water and in swampy environments, resisting even very low temperatures. Despite this versatility, its flowering period is from May to December and it is thanks to this characteristic that it has become a symbol of youth and rebirth. During the Victorian era, flower symbolism spread and the calla played a vital role in celebrating Easter as a symbol of resurrection. This flower, combined with the Virgin Mary, was portrayed in the paintings of the seventeenth century, which had the Annunciation next to the virgin as their theme.

The calla and mythology

Both Greek and Roman mythology have combined different myths and legends with the calla. In Greece it is claimed that the calla lilies were born from the milk of Hera’s breasts. The story tells that Zeus, king of Olympus, wanting his son Hercules to grow strong and indestructible, put the child to suck the milk from the breasts of the sleeping Hera. Waking up, Hera abruptly detached the child and sowed her milk for creation, forming many small stars and, on each of these, a calla grew. The Romans, on the other hand, tell the legend of Venus who, worried by the beauty of the calla, cursed it by giving it a tumescent pistil that ridiculed it. Roman satire heavily used the chrysalis of the flower as a symbol of petty sexuality and a metaphor for voracious senile passion.

Calla flower: Meaning of the calla flower

Callas are commonly white in color, but they come in a variety of other colors. This type of colored calla are also called mini-calla and each of them carries with it a different meaning. White brings to mind purity and innocence, pink symbolizes the ideals of admiration and appreciation. Purple denotes passion. On the other hand, yellow is combined with a multitude of meanings, but it is usually associated with gratitude. Black, with a melancholy and dramatic air, supports the ideals of elegance and mystery. These flowers appeared in the 1950s in Sigmund Freud’s book as a symbol of eroticism, bisexuality and homosexuality, thanks to the shape, which recalls both genitals. This vision of Freud pushed the artists of the twentieth century to load the flower with erotic meanings.

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