In the Garden
Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)
*Also known as Candlemas bells, fair maid of February, snow princess, and white queen
One of the earliest flowers to peek out at the barren landscape, the snowdrop’s drooping, white blooms often come up through a blanket of snow. The snowdrop has narrow, grass-like leaves surrounding the flower stems. The pendulous flowers are white with three inner and three outer petals. The inner petals have a touch of green at their tips. The genus name Galanthus is derived from the Greek gala, “milk,” and anthos, “flower.” 16 The species name nivalis is Latin for “snowy.” 17 Like many popular garden plants, the snowdrop has many species and hybrids.
In England and Scotland, the snowdrop was considered a flower of hope because it was a sign that spring was on its way. The number of inner and outer petals, a doubling of the sacred number three, also makes it a symbol of hope. Despite this association, bringing one flower into the house was considered bad luck in some parts of England, but taking in more than one was not.
To the Victorians, the snowdrop was a death token because the flowers were so close to the ground—belonging more to the dead than the living. However, folklore is fickle because it was also believed that if snowdrops grew under the windows of a house, the family within would have happiness.
Make a wish when you see the first snowdrop of the season, but do not pick it. Place an offering amongst snowdrops to make contact with the nature spirits and devas. Burn dried leaves in spells and rituals to build strength when you are faced with difficult issues. Also do this when you need help to persevere in a situation. Dried flowers in a sachet can be carried with you to bolster bravery and dispel fear.
Snowdrop is associated with the element earth.