Star of Bethlehem Flower: Dive into its Profound Meaning and Lore

Known as Ornithogalum, the Star of Bethlehem is a versatile bulb popular in various climates. It thrives outdoors in warm areas or indoors during colder months. Beyond its beauty, this flower holds significant meaning and symbolism. Dive into its rich history, uses, benefits, and global cultural importance

Star of Bethlehem Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Star of Bethlehem Flower (Ornithogalum) Meaning – The Essentials

Star of Bethlehem represents the infant Jesus, linked to the symbolism of innocence, purity, redemption, and forgiveness. It’s also a symbol of uprightness and modesty to the Victorians, as well as a common Christmas bouquet flower.

Etymological Meaning

The names of these plants have raised quite a few questions over the centuries. Star of Bethlehem, the common name for Ornithogalum, is most straightforward to explain. It’s a reference to the star that appeared in the sky to guide the guests who witnessed the birth of Jesus. This links it to Christianity even though the plant itself is not mentioned in the Bible. 

The scientific name, Ornithogalum, is more mysterious—a literal translation of the Greek word it’s based on means ” bird’s milk. ” One common explanation is that it refers to the white or cream colors of the flowers.

The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Star of Bethlehem Flowers

The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Star of Bethlehem Flowers

Common Star of Bethlehem Flower Colors and Their Meaning & Symbolism

The exact color of a bloom determines its meaning just as much as the type of flower. Common colors for Star of Bethlehem flowers include:

  • White: Innocence, purity, hope, mourning, and healing.
  • Red: Passion, power, strength, intensity, success, wealth, and endings.
  • Orange: Warmth, fun, joy, friendship, excitement, and cheerfulness.
  • Yellow: Youthfulness, pride, celebration, and fun.

Christian Symbolism

As the common name indicates, the Star of Bethlehem is linked to the story of the birth of Jesus. It appeared in the night sky to lead the Three Wise Men to Jerusalem. 

This links it to the symbolism of the infant Christ, which lends it the meaning of purity, redemption, and innocence. 

It’s a common wedding bouquet addition for this reason, along with its delicate appearance.

Greek Expressions of Wonder

Greek Expressions of Wonder

Ornithogalum means bird’s milk in Greek, which may be linked to the language’s common expression of wonder.

During the era, it was commonly believed that many birds, including white doves, fed their young with milk. Since it was practically impossible to see this happening, it became a reference to wonders and miracles.

Victorian Language of Flowers

The Victorians grew multiple varieties of Star of Bethlehem in their gardens, so they naturally included it in their Language of Flowers

Like many types of white flowers, the Star of Bethlehem represented purity and innocence to the Victorians. Some even proscribed it as a symbol of chasteness. 

The flower was commonly included in bouquets sent to young women who weren’t yet married, which is likely how it became famous as a wedding bouquet flower.


Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum) FAQs

What do Star of Bethlehem flowers symbolize? 

These flowers symbolize purity, new beginnings, renewal, and miraculous events.

Do Star of Bethlehem flowers come back every year? 

When planted in USDA zones 8 to 10, most varieties are perennial and will return year after year.

What do Star of Bethlehem flowers smell like? 

Most varieties have a sweet, strong fragrance often described as similar to gardenia or jasmine.

What are Star of Bethlehem flowers used for? 

Star of Bethlehem was once eaten and used as herbal medicine, but now they’re only recommended as a cut flower or landscaping addition.

What pollinators do Star of Bethlehem flowers attract? 

The open star-shaped flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies, and more.

Are Star of Bethlehem flowers poisonous to humans and animals? 

The plants, especially the bulbs and flowers, can contain toxic glycosides. Keep them away from curious children and pets.

Why is it called Bethlehem Flower?

It’s a reference to the star that appeared in the sky to guide the guests who witnessed the birth of Jesus. This links it to Christianity even though the plant itself is not mentioned in the Bible. 

Wrap-up

The delicate star-shaped blooms of Ornithogalum are worth admiring at any time of year. While many people associate them with winter and Christmas, they bloom in the spring when planted in the landscape. Let them add their meaning of purity and innocence to your yard or a flower arrangement.

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