The Cyclamen, with its delicate white, pink, red or violet flowers, symbolize sincerity and love, which is perhaps why it is gifted at Christmas. What are the other meanings of this winter-flowering plant?

The cyclamen is native to Europe and the Mediterranean region where it grows wild among leaves or rocky areas in deciduous or mixed forests. In the wild, cyclamens bloom in the winter or spring and go dormant when warm weather arrives.

They get their name from the Latin word ‘cyclamnos’ meaning circular, thought to refer to the way the flower stem bends and curls down once seeds have formed. Other sources suggest it refers to the nearly round tuber from which it springs.

The cyclamen is associated with the Virgin Mary. The cyclamen flower seems to bow its head in reverence, much like the young Mary when she accepted her mission of motherhood. In Europe, incense prepared from cyclamen was used in churches dedicated to St Mary and cyclamen bouquets and floral arrangements often decorate chapels and statues in her name.

Whilst the plant is toxic if consumed raw, it has been used for medicinal purposes for over 2000 years. Dioscorides, a Greek botanist and doctor, documented the use of cyclamen to ease childbirth, maybe another reason why it is associated with the Virgin Mary.

Cyclamen is a popular symbol of fertility since the shape of the flower resembles the uterus. People used them as herbal amulets that promote conception.

According to Pansy Maiden cyclamens bring good luck. They restore harmony and stabilize the energy in a home where the family members have become alienated. This also applies to extended family homes, where cross-generational misunderstandings and conflict create long-term tension. When gifted to another family member, a pot of cyclamen flowers become an expression of kindness and support. Perhaps this is why it makes such a perfect Christmas gift?


(Victoria Earle)


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