Daffodils are one of the earliest flowers to bloom in the spring. They are a sign that winter is ending and spring is beginning. They symbolize renewal because they bloom so early. In the UK, they are sometimes called lent lilies because they tend to pop up during the season of Lent, which is between Ash Wednesday and Easter. As you know, Lent is one of the holiest times in the Christian year and a preparatory time for the celebration of the holiest day of the year, Easter Sunday. The day we honor the resurrection of Jesus.
Daffodils are also beautiful. Therefore, I was not entirely surprised to learn that the scientific name of this flower is Narcissus. This ties in to the myth of Narcissus and Echo in Greco-Roman mythology. Like most myths, it is a story with a moral.
A decidedly brief summary of the story of Narcissus is this: Narcissus was a young man who thought very highly of himself. He was loved by many. He believed himself to be the most handsome person ever. Echo was a nymph. Echo fell in love with Narcissus but he rejected her embrace. Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance, extracted justice for Echo and all others rejected by Narcissus by cursing him to sit at the water and stare at his own reflection. He had shown great hubris in thinking so well of himself that he was too good for anybody. Consequently, he fell in love with his reflection because of the incredible beauty he saw in his own form. He would not move from that spot and ended up becoming rooted in the soil and stuck admiring his own beauty for the rest of time, becoming a flower looking at its own reflection in the water.
The myth of Narcissus is where the name for the psychological diagnosis of narcissism is derived. Narcissists are generally self-obsessed, immature, and shallow people who are only in it for themselves. Imagine if you found yourself so magnificent that you could not leave your own reflection to the point that you became rooted in the soil. Granted this is a metaphor, but I think there are people that are in the world today who really do think that highly of themselves. This is not a good personality trait to have if you wish to get on well with others and makes a person very difficult to deal with. One can be very beautiful on the outside and yet be hideous and decrepit beneath the surface. A little bit of humility and empathy can turn someone into a true flower, both inside and out.
by Julie Morse