Wednesday, November 19, 2008

October Flower- Marigolds or Calendula

The flower symbolism associated with marigolds is indicated in the name: Mary's Gold. Marigold flowers were "golden gifts" offered to the Virgin by the poor who could not afford to give actual gold. Marigolds were used in Mary Gardens. Marigolds are symbolic of passion and creativity. Marigolds are also known as the "Herb of the Sun." Marigolds have been used as love charms and incorporated into wedding garlands. In some cultures, marigold flowers have been added to pillows to encourage prophetic or psychic dreams.

The flower symbolism associated with the calendula is grief, despair and sorrow. Calendula blossoms in wine are said to ease indigestion. Calendula petals are used in ointments to cure skin irritations, jaundice, sore eyes and toothaches.

The Latin name for the European marigold was calendula, which derives from the Latin word calendae ‘the first day of the month.’ The word has also been translated as ‘a little calendar or little clock.’ The name was appropriate since the flower bloomed throughout the entire calendar year and provided monastery gardens and altars with a constant supply of golden blooms.

Calendula was often called pot marigold because it was used as seasoning in the cooking pots of the poor and was used as an inexpensive substitute for saffron, adding its color to cakes, butter, and puddings.

The common name for calendula, marigold, is straightforward and translates as ‘Mary’s gold’. Calendula blossoms were called Mary’s gold because they were considered the Virgin Mary’s flowers.

Like the sunflower, the calendula blossom follows the sun; as a result, it has earned the nickname “Sun’s Bride.”

In Germany, the flower was often called ‘monk’s head’ because when stripped of its petals, the remains look like a monk’s tonsure.

It is believed that when Shakespeare wrote about merrybuds, he was referring to the blossoms of calendula.

Among other nicknames for the popular blossom are souci, marybud, bulls eye, garden marigold, and holligold.