Calendula: A Floral Guide to Its Rich Symbolism and Significance

Calendula flowers offer simple beauty with their daisy-shaped flower heads and a cheerful ambiance with their sunny, golden faces. They also have a wealth of symbolism and cultural significance that can be enjoyed along with their bright orange and yellow flowers. In this guide, I’ll run through everything you need to know about the Calendula flower’s meaning and its cultural significance worldwide today. 

Calendula Flower Meaning and Symbolism in the Language of Flowers

Calendula Symbolism – Key Takeaways

Calendula flowers symbolize grief, despair, and remembrance. They are also associated with endurance, longevity, prophecy, and joy. Due to the flower’s history of medicinal use, it is also associated with health.

Etymological Meaning

The genus name “Calendula” comes from a diminutive form of the Latin word calens which translates roughly to “the first of the month.” It is thought that this refers to the flower’s ability to bloom throughout the year in mild climates.

The common name marigold comes from “Mary’s gold” and refers to an old tradition of placing these golden-colored flowers at the feet of statues of the Virgin Mary as offerings to accompany one’s petitions for prayers.

Calendula Flower Colors and Their Meaning

Calendula Flower Colors and Their Meaning and Symbolism

The Calendula flower has been associated with various symbolic meanings throughout the ages. Today, they carry those meanings in addition to others that have been more recently attributed to the flowers. Calendula flowers symbolize grief, remembrance, and despair. Conversely, they are also associated with joy and health. Due to their long blooming time, calendula flowers also symbolize longevity and endurance.

Flower colors can also attribute their own individual symbolic meanings to the flowers themselves. Calendula flowers most commonly blossom in bright orange and yellow hues. Some cultivars and hybrids have also generated white, red, pink, and bicolor calendula flowers. The symbolic meaning of a calendula flower can change depending on its color.

Orange Calendula Flowering Meaning 

In flowers, orange symbolizes excitement, joy, vigor, enthusiasm, passion, and positive energy.

Yellow Calendula Flowering Meaning 

Yellow flowers are also associated with joy and positive energy. In flowers, yellow also symbolizes friendship, confidence, optimism, and happiness.

Red Calendula Flowering Meaning 

Red flowers are most commonly associated with true love and romantic love. They can also symbolize courage, desire, and respect.

Pink Calendula Flowering Meaning 

Pink flowers symbolize femininity, happiness, gentleness, and gentle affection.

White Calendula Flowering Meaning

White flowers traditionally symbolize purity and innocence or are associated with mourning, grief, and sympathy.

Calendula in Floriography

In the Victorian language of flowers, calendula (referred to by its common name, marigold) symbolizes grief. Victorian floriography also associates calendula with prediction. It represents despair, particularly the despair that can be brought about as a result of love.

Calendula and October Birth Flowers

The Calendula flower (along with other types of marigolds and cosmos) is the birth flower for the month of October.

Prophecy and Protection

Calendula Flowers and Their Association With Prophecy and Protection

Calendula flowers have held strong associations with protection and prophecy. Placing their petals beneath one’s bed was thought to guard against the dangers of thieves and robbers coming in the night. If someone did fall victim to theft, the petals were also said to bring about prophetic dreams so that a person would be able to recognize and catch the thief.

Additionally, the combined token of calendula and bay leaf was thought to protect one from the dangers of spreading gossip.

Calendula Flowers and Good Luck

Calendula flowers are also thought to bring good luck, specifically in legal matters. If you have a day in court, for example, carrying a calendula flower or petals in your pocket or wearing a calendula flower on your lapel could help you win your case.

Calendula Flowers and the Virgin Mary

Calendula’s common name, marigold, is thought to come from the practice of venerating the Virgin Mary with the golden-colored flowers that were once simply referred to as “gold.” They provided a way for poor Christians to honor Mary with a tribute.

Today, marigold flowers are still strongly connected to the Virgin Mary in Christian traditions. As Mary wears a crown of gold, every golden-colored flower – especially the marigolds carrying her name – is seen as a token of praise, honor, and veneration of Mother Mary.

The Lore of Calendula Flowers

Historically, calendula has had several magical or mystical uses and associations. For example, calendula was included in a 16th-century recipe for a potion that was used to reveal fairies. Simmered in white wine and honey, a powdered blend of calendula, wormwood, thyme, and marjoram was used as an ointment to help a single woman with two suitors determine which was her true love match.

Calendula Flower Use in Ancient Civilizations

The ancient Greeks and Romans wove garlands and crowns of calendula flowers for use in rituals and ceremonies.

Suitable Gifting Occasions

Due to their association with Mother Mary, calendula is associated with venerating mothers. As a result, calendula plants, seeds, or cut flowers make lovely Mother’s Day gifts or gifts for a mother’s birthday.

As the birth flower for October, calendulas are also great for celebrating birthdays during that month.

Calendula plants are simply cheerful-looking flowers. For this reason alone, they make beautiful gifts for any happy or celebratory occasion.

Calendula FAQs:

What Do Calendula Flowers Symbolize?

Calendula flowers symbolize grief, despair, and remembrance. They are also associated with endurance, longevity, prophecy, and joy. Due to the flower’s history of medicinal use, it is also associated with health.

Do Calendula Flowers Symbolize Love?

Calendula flowers have many symbolic meanings, but love is not among them.

Do Calendula Flowers Come Back Every Year?

Calendula flowers are perennial and return yearly in USDA hardiness zones nine through 11. They can be grown as annuals down to zone two.

How Lond Do Calendula Flowers Last?

With proper deadheading and maintenance, calendula plants can bloom continuously throughout summer and into the fall. Individual flowers, however, only last for two or three days.

Are Calendula Flowers Toxic?

Calendula is not toxic to humans, dogs, or cats. However, pregnant women should not ingest or use calendula products because they contain chemicals that can cause uterine contractions.

For more, see our in-depth guide to popular flowers that are toxic to cats, dogs, and other pets.

The Color of Treasure and a Rich Symbolic History

Calendula flowers not only don the color of gold, but they also have a rich history of symbolic, medicinal, and cultural traditions. Whether you simply appreciate the story of this beautiful flower or choose to grow them in your garden, there’s no denying that calendula flowers have helped to shape a relatively significant part of the human experience in many parts of the world.


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