I Speak for the Lilacs

Every May I display lilacs in my home, my favorite flower, my favorite smell.

Every year my mother tells me how my grandmother wouldn’t have lilacs in the house because she said they were bad luck.

I could be snarky and say that this explains a lot.

Lilacs in jug
Photo by Rayia Soderberg 

This bad rap lilacs have received is an Old English superstition, particular to the Norfolk area according to the internet (so we all know it’s true…). People once believed that the sweet smell of lilacs were a favorite of the faeries and if you dared to bring some inside, well, you just might end up with a faerie amongst them too. A faerie who isn’t too happy to be caught in a human home.

This faerie might let you off with only some troublesome pranks, no real harm done. Or it may be really pissed and steal one of your family members away into the night to Faerieland never to be seen again. Moody wee bugger.

Clearly that faerie has issues.

As a result of this potential for unexplained disappearing, lilacs came to be associated with death. Just like Faerieland, there’s no coming back from that. 

Only, there are tales of those who have returned — both from magical faerie kingdoms and from death. So…

Still, death?

Well, yeah — it doesn’t help that coffins were lined with lilacs to disguise unpleasant odors. To that I say, what did people use the other eleven months lilacs weren’t blooming? Why pick on lilacs alone?

There is even an argument that it is only white lilacs that are unlucky, not the lavender ones. Why you gotta be that way?

When I see lilacs beginning to bloom, I feel a sense of hope — winter is gone, spring has arrived! I breathe in the velvety scent and exhale stress and anxiety. Peace.

So, I will continue to cut and display lilacs, superstitions be damned.

lilac coffee
Photo by Brigitte Tohm

Of course, my household members may feel differently about my laissez faire springtime cuttings and their affects on possibly being kidnapped…but I make up for it with positive energy sage bouquets at Yule. It’s all good.

*Featured Photo by Bonnie Kittle