I used to only see lilies on Easter Sunday. Now I see everything from roses to hydrangea to mums. They are beautiful, but is there a “proper” liturgical Easter flower? — Oshkosh
Alleluia, indeed, He has Risen!
The Season of Easter is one of joy, exultation and celebration for we know that the chains of sin and the sting of death have been defeated in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is good and fitting that our music, our vestments and the decorations which adorn our churches express this joy and exaltation. So it is very common, as the question states, that we see a wide range of floral arrangements during this season.
Though the Easter lily is a traditional decoration during this season, it is not necessarily the “official flower of the Easter Season.” The white lily is a traditional symbol used in Christian art to depict purity and new life. This is why St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother are often depicted with the white lily.
Though the white lily is a common symbol we have seen through the ages, the “Easter lily” as a species, is a relatively modern introduction to the repertoire of liturgical decoration. Arriving in England from Japan in 1819 and in the United States by 1880, the Easter lily has been a dominant symbol of the Resurrection during the Easter Season.
Not being a botanist myself, or having any semblance of a “green thumb,” my presumption is that the Easter lily remains a prominent symbol of Easter because they die every season and rise in the spring to new life. (The Easter lily grows from a bulb.)
So, while they may serve as a great symbol of the dying and rising that occurred once and for all for the salvation of humanity, they are not the only symbol or flower that can be used to express the joy we have in the sure reality that we, too, are called to participate in Jesus’ paschal mystery.
Deacon Johnson is divine worship director for the Diocese of Green Bay.