My daughter came in the other night with a treasure which she gave to me: an African violet. It always amazes me that anyone who wishes to can procure one of these gems for less than $5.00.
$5.00 for an African violet. We Americans don’t understand value at all.
The African violet comes in nearly every color of the rainbow, so “violet” is sort of a relative term. It’s a humble little plant, but the violet has a history and a deep meaning. Mythology says that Diana turned one of her nymphs into a violet to protect her from the relentless pursuit of Apollo. Her modesty gives rise to the most common meaning of violets: delicate love.
In religious environs, the Virgin Mary is often associated with the violet, also because of her modesty. The name Viola, taken from violet, means all of the following: modesty, spiritual wisdom, humility and faithfulness. When seen in religious artwork, the violet usually is symbolizing humility.
Violets have another deeper meaning: one of death, and resurrection. They are known as the blood of Attis, who is the center of one of mythology’s oldest resurrection stories:
Attis was worshipped in Rome
and the flowers grew.
Cybele loved him
but so did the nymph
So Cybele hated him
and killed his love.
Devastated, he went mad
clung to a tree, and breathed his last.
And the rocks cried out
and the flowers died.
The Gods repented then,
and Attis lived again
Resurrected every Spring
after a cold dark season of death
Worshippers adorn trees with violets
said to have grown from his very blood,
and they sing his praises.