Calla Lilies: A Complete Guide to Their Symbolism

The calla lily, or Zantedeschia aethiopica, is among the most popular flowers in the world. This flower may be simple in appearance, but its blooms come with plenty of symbolism and cultural significance. If you’re looking for information on the calla lily, this article is for you. We’ll cover everything you need to know about the rich history, meaning, and symbolism of calla lily flowers, as well as their cultural significance worldwide. 

Ultimate Guide to Calla Lily Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Calla Lily Symbolism – Key Takeaways

Calla lilies are associated with purity, innocence, and beauty. In many cultures, they symbolize rebirth and new beginnings. The flower doesn’t have a clear meaning in the Victorian language of flowers, but it has expressed admiration and appreciation throughout history.

Etymological Meaning

The calla lily’s genus, Zantedeschia, gets its name from Italian botanist Giovanni Zantedeschi. The specific species name aethiopica comes from the Latin aethiopicus, which refers to Ethiopia and its people. 

The calla lily’s common name stems from the Greek word kallos, meaning beauty. The plant was first named calla lily by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, who called the plant a lily by mistake.

Common Calla Lily Flower Colors and Their Meaning

The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Calla Lily Flowers

The most popular calla lily color is white, which symbolizes purity, innocence, and elegance. Yellow calla lilies represent joy and gratitude. And pink calla lilies represent adoration and appreciation.

Additionally, orange calla lilies symbolize energy and excitement, while red calla lilies symbolize love and courage. Purple calla lilies symbolize admiration and enchantment.

Calla Lily Myths and Folklore

There are several myths and ancient meanings associated with calla lilies. For example, the plant was associated with Hera, Zeus’s wife in ancient Greece. 

Hera woke from sleep in the mythical tale to find Zeus lifting their son Hercules toward her. She didn’t want to nurse him, so she pushed him away. 

As she did so, milk flew away from her, creating the milky way. Calla lilies grew in the places where these milk drops landed on the ground. 

This plant also has mythical ties to ancient Rome. Calla lilies were associated with Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. 

The story says that Venus saw the calla lily’s beauty as a threat to her own. So, she cursed the flower, causing its central spadix to form. 

Cultural Significance

Calla Lily Cultural Significance

The calla lily is the national flower of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian people consider white calla lilies to be a symbol of peace. This plant also symbolizes good luck in some cultures, especially for wedding ceremonies.

Historical Significance

The calla lily also has historical significance dating back to England’s Victorian era. At that time, calla lilies were sometimes used in funeral arrangements. The plant’s association with rebirth made it a popular choice for mourning and celebrations of life.

In contrast, white calla lilies are also commonly used to represent marital love and devotion. Traditionally, this flower is a common gift for a couple’s sixth wedding anniversary.

Religious and Spiritual Meanings

In Christianity, calla lilies represent resurrection and eternal life. You may see them at Easter services, as they serve as a symbol of the resurrection. This flower is also commonly seen in depictions of the Virgin Mary.

Calla Lily References in Art

The calla lily does not have many well-known references in literature. However, there are a few artistic references to this flower worth noting. 

For example, Georgia O’Keeffe made many paintings of calla lilies, including Two Calla Lilies Together and Two Calla Lilies on Pink. Additionally, the artist Arthur B. Carles created a series of calla lily paintings from 1922 to 1925. 

Another famous calla lily painting is Diego Rivera’s Calla Lily Vendor. This renowned Mexican artist has several paintings that feature calla lilies. 

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Calla Lily Flowers

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Calla Lily Flowers

Now, you can give calla lilies for any occasion. However, they’re particularly great for anniversaries, birthdays, and new beginnings.

If you’re looking for a housewarming or thank you gift, a calla lily arrangement is always a good choice. Historically, the flower was a common decoration at funerals, so it’s also a suitable sympathy gift. 

Calla Lily Flower FAQs:

What does a calla lily flower symbolize?

Calla lilies have a variety of meanings, depending on the color of the flower. For example, white calla lilies symbolize purity, innocence, and elegance.

Are calla lily flowers lucky?

Calla lilies symbolize good luck in many cultures, especially for newly married couples. So, they make a lovely gift for new beginnings, whether for a wedding or celebrating a job promotion.

Do calla lilies come back every year?

In warm climates, calla lilies will grow as perennials. This means that they will grow year after year.

How long do calla lily flowers last?

Cut calla lilies can last up to two weeks if they receive proper care. To extend the life of your flowers, keep them hydrated in fresh, clean water.

Do calla lilies flower more than once?

Yes, calla lilies can flower more than once in the right conditions. Typically, this plant produces blooms for around three to eight weeks during early to mid-summer.

Wrapping Up

Now that you know all about calla lilies, why not buy some for your home? This plant makes a beautiful addition to any space and is sure to add a touch of elegance to your yard. Plus, this flower serves as a reminder of many lovely sentiments. Plant them in your garden as a symbol of love, appreciation, or new beginnings.


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