Daffodil flower meanings and symbolism include revival, rebirth, hope, joy, resilience, good luck, prosperity, memories, and forgiveness. Is it possible to grow sunshine? Flower enthusiasts would insist that it is. With the exception of the sunflower, few other flowers radiate bright sunshine as the daffodil does, and not to mention, the welcoming of spring after a cold, dark winter.
But there’s more to daffodils than lovely cut flowers. In this post, you’ll learn about daffodil symbols and meanings, daffodil mythology and folklore, daffodil spiritual meanings, and more.
Table of Contents
- What do daffodils symbolize?
- Etymology of the Name Daffodil
- Other Names for Daffodils
- Detailed Daffodil Flower Meanings
- Daffodil Color Meanings
- Yellow Daffodil Meaning
- White Daffodil Meaning
- Orange Daffodil Symbolism
- Pink Daffodil Meaning
- Spiritual Meaning of the Daffodil
- Daffodils in the Bible, Judaism, and Christianity
- Daffodils in Islam
- Daffodils in Mythology and Folklore
- Daffodils in Ancient Egypt
- The Daffodil in Europe
- Chinese Daffodil Meanings
- Daffodils in Popular Culture
- Daffodil Flower Uses
- When to Give Daffodils
- Daffodil Tattoo Meaning
What do daffodils symbolize?
Daffodils are among the first flowers to burst through the snow after winter. They usually emerge in March or early April. Thus, they are associated with the birth month of March and springtime. Daffodils also represent a number of other positive qualities, including:
- Revival and Rebirth
- Good Luck and Prosperity
Etymology of the Name Daffodil
Before we get into detailed daffodil symbols and meanings, here’s some information on the name of these lovely perennials. The term “daffodil” originated from the Latin affodillus, or an earlier version: asphodelus. However, no one knows for sure how the flower got its Latin name.
By the 15th century, the term had spread throughout Europe, taking on new pronunciations depending on the dialect. It was likely the Dutch who added the “d” sound to the name when they put an article in front of the name: de affodil. As the Netherlands were an important distributor of daffodil bulbs, it’s likely that many people learned the pronunciation from the Dutch.
Other Names for Daffodils
The daffodil, along with the jonquil, is a member of the flower genus Narcissus, which has over 50 species. While people might use the terms interchangeably, with so many species, there are subtle differences in all of these flowers. For example, the jonquil tends to be more petite than the daffodil. And while “paperwhites” are sometimes called white daffodils, they are a different species from the more common yellow daffodils.
Other names for daffodils and daffodil-type flowers include “tazetta” and “daffadowndilly.” However, technically, all of these flowers are narcissuses. (Look for a separate article on narcissus meanings coming soon!)
Detailed Daffodil Flower Meanings
Here are some details behind daffodil flower meanings and symbols:
Revival and Rebirth
At the end of the dark, cold winter, the daffodil bursts forth, sometimes through snow. In fact, along with the crocus, they are the first flowers that many people see in the beginning of spring. The daffodil blooms annually in March and early April, awaking from a dormant bulb each year. Because of this, they are symbols of revival, rebirth, and new beginnings.
As they symbolize new beginnings and revival, daffodil meaning also includes hope. Even after the darkest, coldest winter, the daffodil shows us that nature will be reborn and life will go on.
Underscoring the daffodil as a symbol of hope, The American Cancer Society sponsors annual Daffodil Days, when bouquets are sent to families of cancer patients. So, the daffodil has come to represent hope that we will find cures for every kind of cancer.
In addition to being a symbol of hope and revival, the daffodil also represents pure joy. These happy flowers that remind us to have fun, enjoy life, and appreciate the simple things that make us happy.
The daffodil bulb can withstand freezing temperatures. Dormant in the winter, it comes alive again in the spring. Hence, the daffodil is a powerful symbol for overcoming obstacles and bouncing back from hardships.
Good Luck and Prosperity
With their golden color, daffodils also symbolize good luck and prosperity. Thus, seeing the first daffodil in early spring can be a sign that you’ll experience good luck in financial matters.
While they are symbols of renewal and new beginnings, daffodils also remind us of how far we’ve come. In addition, they represent positive memories and an acknowledgement to not forget special people in your life and wonderful life experiences.
Just as they symbolize hope and revival, daffodil meanings also include forgiveness. Daffodil flowers are an affirmation that you acknowledge a wrong, that you hope to be forgiven, and want a fresh start with a relationship.
Daffodil Color Meanings
When you think of daffodils, the color yellow may be the first thing you envision. However, you can find these flowers in colors other than the ubiquitous yellow and white varieties. Here are some of the color meanings applied to daffodils.
Yellow Daffodil Meaning
The color yellow represents many positive qualities, including joy, optimism, and prosperity. So, yellow daffodils are perfect gifts if you want to cheer someone up or wish them good luck. They also bring happiness to your home or garden.
White Daffodil Meaning
White flowers symbolize purity, innocence, and fresh starts. This is why so many brides choose to carry bouquets of white flowers. White daffodils are a lovely choice for a late winter wedding or the birth of a new baby, as they represent new beginnings.
Orange Daffodil Symbolism
Orange daffodils symbolize courage, enthusiasm, wellness, and friendship. So, these are the perfect flowers to give to someone who needs a boost, is going into a new and challenging situation, or who is trying to overcome a health challenge.
Pink Daffodil Meaning
Pink daffodils are coral or salmon-colored in hue. Botanists create this color by introducing red tones into the existing base of yellow daffodils.
Pink daffodils symbolize love but usually the platonic variety. So, they are lovely gifts for friends and family members. They are also appropriate for new romantic relationships.
Spiritual Meaning of the Daffodil
Daffodils in the Bible, Judaism, and Christianity
Depending on the translation, the daffodil’s “parent flower,” the narcissus, is mentioned in the Bible. (Sometimes it’s translated as a crocus.) For example, Isaiah 35:1-2 speaks of the hope and optimism represented by these beautiful spring flowers:
“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the narcissus / crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.”
Some historians believe that the rose of Sharon mentioned in the Bible was a flower that was similar to what we know as daffodils. In fact, one legend says that a daffodil bloomed in Gethsemane to console the recently betrayed Jesus just before his crucifixion.
Daffodils are also a symbol of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the largest insurrection by the Jewish people during the Second World War. The uprising is commemorated each year on April 19th, and people wear yellow paper daffodils to show their respect for the occasion.
Daffodils are also common flowers seen at Easter time. Not only are they seasonal, but as symbols of revival and rebirth, Christians naturally associate them with Jesus’ resurrection.
Daffodils in Islam
Early ancestors of the daffodil or narcissus were also referenced in context to the Prophet Mohammad. He is said to have praised the flower in this way, “Whoever has two loaves of bread, sell one and buy narcissi, for while bread nourishes the body, the narcissus feeds the soul.”
Associated Spirit Animals
Grubs and nematodes are known to feed on daffodil bulbs. And mammals, such as badgers and skunks, are known to dig up daffodil bulbs. However, it’s unclear whether they’re after the bulbs themselves or the insects that feed upon the bulbs.
The daffodil also shares some synergies with certain animals on a symbolic and spiritual level. For example, both the daffodil and the dove are symbols of hope, optimism, and new beginnings. And like the daffodil, both the hummingbird and cardinal are symbols of good luck. Furthermore, the beloved dog is a symbol of joy and optimism just as daffodils are.
Daffodils in Mythology and Folklore
It’s easy to forget that many of the flowers we enjoy today have been around for thousands of years. Said to have originated in Portugal and Spain, daffodils have been important to many cultures that existed long before ours.
Daffodils in Ancient Egypt
The Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II was said to have been buried with daffodil bulbs. And daffodil wreaths has been found in ancient Egyptian graves.
The Daffodil in Europe
Because daffodils usually bloom in the late winter during the lead-up to Easter, the English call them “Lent lilies” or “Lenten lilies.” Daffodils, like roses, are indeed a very English flower.
In the country of Wales, daffodils are the national flower. The time of year that daffodils bloom coincides with the death of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales. The Feast of Saint David is celebrated each year on March 1st to commemorate the saint’s death.
Chinese Daffodil Meanings
In China, daffodils symbolize prosperity and good luck. They also symbolize new beginnings as daffodils bloom around the time of Chinese New Year. Hence, for the Chinese, daffodils are common New Year’s gifts.
Furthermore, the color yellow was an important hue in Imperial China. The Chinese associate golden yellow with their emperors. Thus, daffodils have important cultural meanings in Chinese history.
Daffodils in Popular Culture
In the modern world, you can find cheerful daffodils in a variety of contexts. For example, William Wordsworth’s poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” is a classic ode to daffodils. In addition, there’s a Daffodil International University in Bangladesh.
In 2019, a New Zealand film about a 1960s romance called Daffodils was released. And if you’re looking for upbeat tunes about these special blooms, check out this song by Mark Ronson featuring Kevin Parker.
Daffodil Flower Uses
Despite their sunny vibes, daffodils hide a sinister secret: They are poisonous to humans. Apparently, it’s not uncommon for people to mistake deadly daffodil bulbs for onions. So, if you grow your own onions and daffodils, make sure you can tell the bulbs apart!
Because of their dangerous properties, daffodils are not used in many herbal or traditional medicines. However, you can buy fragrant daffodil essential oil, which is often labeled with its Latin name Narcissus poeticus.
Used carefully, essential daffodil oil can promote sleep and relaxation. Still, it’s important to use restraint when inhaling or applying daffodil oil.
A rare medical application of daffodils is in the treatment of dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease. A compound called “galantamine” contained in daffodils seems to slow cognitive decline. (Be sure to talk to your doctor before using daffodils or any other flower to treat any kind of medical ailment.)
When to Give Daffodils
Giving the gift of daffodils is a surefire way to brighten anyone’s day as they’re one of the most popular springtime flowers. Here are some ideas for occasions to give daffodils:
- A bouquet of daffodils is a loving gift for anyone who’s recovering from an illness, injury, or surgery.
- A symbol of new beginnings, daffodils are a perfect gift for the early stages of a romantic relationship before the passionate rose stage.
- Daffodils are also lovely gifts for rekindling a romance or friendship or when you need to say, “I’m sorry.”
- In addition, daffodils are a lovely way to celebrate the birth of a child, a wedding, or a housewarming in late winter or early spring.
Daffodil Tattoo Meaning
A daffodil tattoo can represent any of the symbols described in this post. And the great thing about flower tattoos? You will likely never regret getting one! To recap, a daffodil tattoo can symbolize:
- The month of March
- 10th wedding anniversary
- Recovery from cancer
- Rebirth or revival
- Good luck
Cheerful, resilient daffodils are a living reminder of new beginnings. Whether you give a bouquet to someone for their March birthday or plant some bulbs in your own flower bed, the daffodil is guaranteed to bring more joy to life.