In These Last Days Of Winter – Snowdrops

Last week, the snowdrops in the garden were hunkered down as if sleeping. Today though, I noticed their heads were lifted and they appeared wide awake. Despite looking as fragile as could be, snowdrops are extremely hardy and one of the very first spring bulbs to pierce snow cover – the leaf at the top of the stem helps them with this – and bloom. They actually hail from mountainous Alpine regions and were only brought to England in the late 16th Century.

Now, I never expected to get agitated while researching into snowdrops, but I did upon finding out that some are threatened in their wild habitat due to habitat destruction, illegal collection (collecting snowdrop bulbs from the wild is illegal in most countries) and climate change.

The links snowdrops have with Victorian superstitions is fascinating. It used to be said you should never bring the flowers inside the home. If you did, you’d be plagued with ill fortune and perhaps even death would pay a visit.

It was also said that bringing them indoors would spoil the eggs, turn the milk sour or watery and affect the colour of the butter. The Victorians did, however, enthusiastically plant them on graves which led to them taking the name ‘Death’s Flower.’ They also had the name ‘Corpse Flower,’ (I like this one best), ‘Fair Maids of February,’ ‘White Ladies,’ and ‘Snow Piercer.’

Margaret Baker in ‘Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore and the Occult of the World’ from 1903 had this to say about why they have the name ‘Corpse Flower,’ and now I’ll never look at the little beauties in the same way again.

‘So much like a corpse in a shroud that in some counties  the people will not have it in the house, lest they bring in death.’

Margaret Baker

P.S. If you have chance, read The Snowdrop by Hans Christian Anderson. It’s so damn beautiful.

P.P.S. Please listen to Snowdrops by Jacob’s Piano.

Gathered From Etsy

I was obsessed with the Snowdrop Fairy as a child, and I still love, love, love Cecily Mary Barker’s illustrations today.

4 thoughts on “In These Last Days Of Winter – Snowdrops”

  1. Fascinating folklore about the snowdrop. I never knew! I, too, am a big Cicely Mary Barker fan and now that I know about the flower’s death associations, it looks to me like the sweet fairy is visiting a grave.

      1. I have the Complete Flower Fairies book. They’re just lovely. Ooh, can’t wait to read your poem. (Sorry about the lateness of my reply. I guess I have to change my settings.)

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