Some folks are unaware of the wondrous water purification properties of the fragrant hyacinth plant stemming from an old NASA design that’s still in use today. These beautiful blooms were named in the tales of ancient mythology and became a popular part of today’s art and pop culture scene over the years. From it’s unique origin to more recent references in movies, books, and television programming, there’s much to uncover about these beautiful buds.
Unusual Etymological Background of the Hyacinth
Etymology by definition is the “historical linguistic” study of a word’s origin and development over time including its spread from one language to another. When it comes to the hyacinth, the birth of this term is a real doozy dating back days of Greek mythology. According to legend and flower experts, there was a gorgeous young man named Hyakinthos who angered the Greek god Zephyr, ruler of the west wind.
The tale is one of classic jealousy, anger, and competition among those fictional gods who ruled ancient Greece. Legend has it, ruler of the sun Apollo was teaching the young athlete the art of throwing the discus when Zephyr became enraged. In retaliation, Zephyr sent a powerful wind to interfere with their practice. As a result of this god-given gust, the discus struck down Hyakinthos with a deadly blow.
From the blood of Hyakinthos’ demise, a beautiful flower grew and blossomed with an intoxicating aroma. The sad tale concludes with a sorrow-filled Apollo naming the plant after the loss of his beloved protege. The flower became connected with similar types of symbolism including:
- Envy and jealousy
- Being rash and/or irrational acts
- Sports activities in general
- A feeling of sorrow
- A sense of honor and remembrance
The hyacinth has also evolved over time to represent prayers, thoughtfulness, messages of hope and well-being often sent to a recipient of one of these beautiful bouquets.
Different colors and shades of these flowers are plentiful and come with their own connections to those legendary types of symbolism. Some are associated with more modern perceptions of any particular color and others are attached to more ancient ties as mentioned previously. For example, the yellow hyacinth is said to represent cowardice or jealousy but it’s still considered an acceptable gift for one who is simply fond of this hue.
Meanings behind the red blossoms are all over the map and include feelings of romance, love, and passion. They’re also meant to symbolize recreation, playtime and an association with sports. As we’ve seen, ancient ties to the flower have migrated their way into more modern times.
Shows and Bedding
Aside from the tragic and unsportsmanlike death of namesake Hyakinthos, the hyacinth later grew to become a part of the active Victorian culture. Associated with sports in general, the flowers of this fragrant plant were also used as bedding according to gardening experts. The blossoms were commonplace in Victorian England and seen at “Grand Hyacinth and Spring Flower Shows” which were very much in vogue during this age.
Beautiful Blooms Around the World
Although many of these flowers are now grown in Holland better known for their tulips rather than hyacinths, these beautiful blooms can be found all over the world. Some of the most breathtaking, beautiful colors and blossoms are found growing near the Caspian Sea in Iran and Turkmenistan. Here you’ll find magnificent spring gardens with soft, baby blue hyacinths along with deep burgundy, luscious lilac and bright orange blooms.
Given their rich history, a bounty of these gorgeous flowers along with their fragrant aromas, the hyacinth plant has certainly earned a rightful place in our indoor spaces, especially office environments. Whether they’re found inside cut arrangements or blossoming on living plants, they’re a beautiful addition to any area, indoors or out.