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Violet Flower meaning and symbolism: Ultimate Guide to viola modesty

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Welcome to the Ultimate Guide: Join me on a deep dive into violet flower meaning and symbolism, where we will uncover its History, Origins, and Uses.

These beautiful and medicinal plants have captivated people’s hearts for centuries. They are among the first flowers to appear at the beginning of spring to fill the gardens with a wonderful flowery scent. With their numerous medicinal properties and uses, violets are an extraordinary creation of nature. 

I have a deep affection for violets, so I dedicated an entire e-book to sharing the best tips on foraging for them and using them in various recipes, whether to enhance hair and skincare routines or soothe a troublesome sore throat.

However, I want to explore the captivating world of meanings and symbols associated with violets. While their practical uses are undeniably valuable, violets hold an equally enchanting realm of symbolism that transcends their physical attributes. This article will delve into what violets represent in various cultures and contexts and discover the hidden messages they convey.

Meaning of Violet Tattoo?

What Are Violet Flowers?

The genus Viola is quite diverse, with 500 species of violets. The most common include Viola odorata (sweet violet), Viola tricolor (wild pansy), and Viola cornuta (horned violet), dog violets, pansy (Viola tricolor) blue violet (Viola papilionacea, Viola sororia).

Violet is also called viola, Johnny-jump-up, hearts ease or kiss-me-at-the-gate. 

Violet plants emerge on stemless stalks, mainly in blue-purple or violet hues, although yellow and cream wild varieties also exist. These blossoms all share a common trait – irregular flowers composed of five petals and heart-shaped leaves.

What Are Violet Flowers?

Interesting facts about Viola

The name “Viola” comes from the Latin word for violet. It is also the genus from which the color violet gets its name.

You may notice that these beautiful flowers you find blooming don’t really have a smell. That is because Viola odorata is the only species that carries the famous fragrance used in violet perfumes and cosmetics. The other violets (Violet sororia, tricolor…) possess similar medicinal benefits but lack the scent. 

Native to Europe, Violet is also attractive to pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies. They provide an important nectar source early in the season.

These purple flowers have made appearances in literature and art. They are mentioned in Shakespeare’s works and have been featured in various historical paintings and poems.

The violet is the state flower of Illinois, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island and the February birth flower.

violet oil
Violet Oil

Violet Flower Meanings and Symbolism

Modesty and Humility:

Their small and delicate blooms often measure just a few centimeters in diameter. Unlike more extravagant and showy flowers, violets don’t flaunt their beauty. Instead, they quietly grace the landscape with their unpretentious presence. This unassuming appearance has contributed to their association with modesty and humility. Their simplicity is a reminder that there is beauty and value in the understated and humble aspects of life.

Faithfulness and Loyalty:

During the Victorian era, known for its strict etiquette, flowers played a significant role in communication and expressing emotions, particularly between lovers. Violets possessed several qualities that made them perfect for representing faithfulness and loyalty. Their vibrant yet unassuming blossoms reflected enduring love, devotion, and steadfastness. Gifting violets to a loved one was a subtle yet significant gesture.

yellow violet
Yellow violet

Remembrance:

Violets are sometimes used to symbolize remembrance, especially in honoring and remembering loved ones who have passed away. Violets’ delicate and ephemeral blooms make them a fitting representation of the fleeting nature of life. Just as violets grace the world with their beauty for a brief season each year, life, too, is transient. This inherent fragility and transience of violets resonate with the idea that memories, like these blooms, are precious but fleeting.

Innocence:

Due to their delicate and unspoiled appearance, violets symbolize innocence and purity, like a baby’s breath or white cosmos. Their small, pristine blossoms, often in soft, gentle colors, evoke an image of untouched beauty. This symbolism is rooted in their historical reverence across cultures, where violets represent purity, simplicity, and the uncorrupted nature of youth. 

Spring and New Beginnings:

Violets and snowdrops are among the earliest flowers to grace the landscape in spring and thus hold a profound symbolism of renewal and new beginnings. Their emergence from the earth after the dormancy of winter heralds the arrival of a fresh season, filling the air with a sense of rejuvenation and hope. Violets’ vibrant blooms, often appearing when the world is still awakening from its slumber, inspire optimism and the promise of brighter days ahead. 

The History of the Beautiful Flower Violet

Inspiration and Creativity:

Their delicate and captivating beauty, often found in enchanting shades of purple and blue, naturally draws the eye and stirs the imagination. Their intricate petals and soft fragrances can transport observers to a world of wonder and enchantment. Violets have been featured in poems, and paintings as symbols of inspiration, encouraging artists to explore their inner landscapes and express their emotions and ideas. In literature, violets have also played a significant role in Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet,’ where Ophelia’s bouquet of white and purple violets had symbolic meaning of innocence and nobility, adding depth to her character’s tragic descent into madness.”

Protection:

In certain folk traditions, violets were believed to have protective qualities and used as charms or carried to ward off evil spirits. These beliefs are rooted in the flower’s delicate yet resilient nature, which symbolizes purity and goodness. This folklore surrounding violets reflects humanity’s enduring desire to seek solace and safety in the natural world, trusting these humble and beautiful flowers.

Healing:

Violets have been used in traditional herbal medicine for their healing properties. 

These small but potent flowers have many uses. Their soothing properties alleviate sore throats and are brewed into violet tea or infusions known for their soothing effects on irritated mucous membranes. Due to their anti-inflammatory and healing properties, their leaves have been applied externally to address skin irritations, such as rashes or minor wounds.

violet tea
violet leaf tea

Femininity:

Their unassuming charm, which doesn’t seek attention but quietly graces the landscape, resonates with feminine qualities, such as grace, subtlety, and gentleness. Furthermore, violets have historically appeared in literature, where they are used to evoke and celebrate the essence of femininity. Poets and artists have drawn parallels between the intricate and enchanting beauty of violets and the multifaceted nature of women, where they are often used as symbols of love and admiration, particularly in expressions of affection toward women.

Peace and Tranquility:

The delicate blooms of violets and their soft, subtle fragrance evoke a feeling of calm and harmony. When violets bloom in gardens or natural landscapes, they create a tranquil atmosphere, inviting contemplation and peaceful moments. Their presence serves as a gentle reminder to slow down, find solace in stillness, and connect with nature’s serenity.

Meaning of Violet Tattoo?

In its various colors, the violet can symbolize modesty, humility, and a deep sense of purity. It may also represent innocence and new beginnings, making it ideal for commemorating fresh starts or remembering loved ones. The color violet is often associated with tranquility and peace, suggesting a desire for inner serenity and emotional balance. Additionally, violets have historical connections to creativity and inspiration, making them a fitting choice for artists and individuals who seek to express their imaginative side. 

In modern times, the violet flower and lavender color have been used as a symbol of LGBTQ+ visibility and solidarity, especially for lesbian and bisexual individuals.

Interesting facts about Viola

The History of the Beautiful Flower Violet

Throughout history, violets have conveyed significant symbolism, representing Christian virtues like humility and faithfulness. In addition, they embody qualities such as modesty, innocence, loyalty, and everlasting love, while their purple color evokes royalty and spiritual associations. Violets have also found their place in dreams, symbolizing joyful home life, love, prosperity, and restful sleep.

History of the Violet Flower in Ancient Greece

In Ancient Greece, violets were highly regarded and associated with various myths and legends. The name “Viola” is believed to have been derived from the Greek word “ion,” which means “violet.” One of the most well-known stories is the legend of Ion, the son of the god Apollo and the mortal princess Creusa. According to the myth, when Apollo left the newborn Ion on a bed of violets, he was protected and nourished by the flowers. This connection to the god of music and poetry, Apollo, contributed to violets’ association with the arts, creativity, and inspiration in Greek culture.

Violets were used by ancient Greeks and Romans as medicine. Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, considered violets as a remedy for headaches and inflammation. The Greeks valued violets and seen it as the symbol of fertility and love, thus used in love potions and to ward dizzy spells. 

In Ancient Rome, they made wine from Violet flowers, which was very popular. 

Violet Tricolor
Violet Tricolor

Violet history in America

The violet’s journey to America is intertwined with European colonization. European settlers, particularly those from England and France, brought violets to the New World in the early colonial period. These violets quickly naturalized and spread throughout North America. Nowadays, they are found all over the world.

In Native American tradition, a Haudenosaunee legend claims that the violet is a child born of both sky and earth. Therefore, it is often considered a symbol of harmony, balance, and opportunity.

In the United States, the violet gained popularity in the 19th century, particularly during the Victorian era, where they played a significant role in the “language of flowers” or floriography.

botanical drawing of violet
botanical drawing of wild violet

Language of flowers during the Victorian Era

During the Victorian era, a period known for its strict etiquette and the expression of emotions through symbolism, flowers played a significant role in communication, particularly between lovers. Violets were often associated with sentiments like faithfulness and loyalty. Their vibrant yet unassuming blossoms reflected everlasting love, devotion, and steadfastness.

In the socially conservative Victorian society, openly expressing romantic feelings was challenging. Strict codes of conduct and etiquette often restrict the direct verbal communication of emotions. This led to development of the “language of flowers,” or floriography, to convey sentiments and intentions discreetly. Each flower and its color carried specific meanings, allowing people to communicate their feelings without saying a word.

Violet Flower Meanings and Symbolism

Meaning of the violet color

The color violet historically conveys symbols of royalty, luxury, and nobility, often associated with wealth and sophistication. Yet, it also resonates with spirituality and mysticism, representing higher consciousness and spiritual insight. Additionally, violet serves as a muse for creativity and inspiration.

White Violet meaning

White violets evoke purity, innocence, and humility. Their pristine petals are a symbol of unblemished character and virtue. White violets are often associated with modesty and convey a sense of simplicity and sincerity. Furthermore, they carry connotations of new beginnings, signifying renewal and a fresh start, making them an emblem of hope and transformation.

White violet
White Pansy

Blue Violet Flower symbolism

Blue violets are imbued with a sense of tranquility and serenity. The infusion of blue into the violet hue imparts a deeper emotional resonance, symbolizing inner peace and emotional balance. Blue violets are often seen as a calming influence, offering solace and wisdom to those who encounter them. 

Christian Symbolism

The story of the violets first blossomed when the Angel Gabriel told Mary that Jesus would be her baby is a charming and symbolic narrative within Christian tradition. the Angel Gabriel’s role as a messenger between heaven and earth gives violets an additional layer of symbolism – that of protection and connections.

The Latin name “Viola odorata” translates to “fragrant violet,” and it means “Our Lady of Modesty “. It associates the violet with mary’s humble nature Mary is often depicted as the epitome of humility and modesty in Christianity, and violets’ unassuming beauty and fragrance are seen as symbolic of these virtues. The title “Our Lady of Modesty” underscores the idea that violets represent the qualities of humility and devotion associated with Mary.

In Christian writings, the violet flower was often seen as a symbol of the Virgin Mary’s humility and purity. Because of its three leaves, medieval monks called violets “the herbs of Trinity” or “flowers of Trinity”. because of their three primary colors – purple, yellow and green.

Ultimate Guide to viola modesty
Vladka Merva on September 8th, 2023

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