Lilac Flowers Meaning & Symbolism

In the 17th century, lilacs were brought to America by colonists, but the flowers originated in Eastern Europe and Asia. These flowers quickly grew in popularity amongst Americans and were even grown in the gardens of both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Lilac flowers traditionally symbolize spring and renewal. Violet lilac flowers signify spirituality while magenta lilac represents love and passion. Blue lilac symbolizes happiness and tranquility. White lilac indicates innocence and purity, and light purple symbolizes first love.

Lilacs come in many different shades, each with a different meaning. If you have a wedding, christening, or housewarming event coming up, then keep reading to find out which shade of lilac is most appropriate. 

What Is The Meaning And Symbolism Of Lilac Flowers?

Lilac flowers symbolize spring and renewal, as they are usually the first to be spotted after winter. Lilacs can also represent confidence. These flowers are traditionally gifted to graduates, as they signify new beginnings and confidence.

There are several different shades of lilac flowers, each with its meaning:

  • Violet lilac – signifies spirituality of any faith, not just Christianity. Flowers of this color are often included in a bouquet for confirmations or christenings.
  • Magenta lilac – represents passion, love, and the celebration of life and is the brightest lilac flower. These flowers are the perfect addition to a bouquet or centerpiece at a spring wedding.

This pink lilac flower can also signify acceptance, friendship, and affection.

  • Blue lilac – symbolizing bliss and tranquility, these flowers are frequently used as a housewarming gift or to say thank you to a host or hostess. Blue lilacs also represent peace and healing.

Interesting fact: it is pretty rare to find blue lilac flowers on a shrub!

  • White lilac – similar to most white flowers, this type of lilac signifies innocence and purity. It can also represent youth, openness, guiltlessness, and virtue.

On the one hand, white lilacs are given to new mothers or used in a wedding bouquet, and on the other hand, these flowers are appropriate at a funeral to help a soul pass to the afterlife.

  • Light purple lilac – symbolizes first love, infatuation, and obsession. This color lilac is the perfect gift to a new significant other to express your love to them, representing an exciting relationship. It can, however, symbolize disappointment, so keep that in mind!

Giving Lilac Flowers As A Gift

Of course, all lilac flowers are beautiful, and most people would be happy to receive any of the lilac shades, but which lilac communicates the message you are hoping to convey?

Lilac Flowers For A Romantic Gift

If you buy flowers for your partner, then light purple lilac flowers are the ideal option. This shade of lilac will tell your partner how much you are in love with them.

On a couple’s 8th wedding anniversary, lilac flowers are often given to the spouse and have become more common over the past century. In this situation, lilac flowers remind couples of their fondness and initial romantic feelings towards each other.

Magenta lilac, symbolizing passion and love, could also be an option for a romantic gift. These flowers can help you make a bold statement saying, “I am still in love with you,” so use them wisely!

Which Lilac Flower Should Be Given To A Friend?

Although magenta lilac flowers can be given to your significant other, they can also be given to a friend. These bright flowers are all about celebration and are a great gift to give to someone to express how much you enjoy their company and value your friendship with them.

The other option to give to a friend is blue lilac flowers. While their meaning is more general, blue lilac flowers have a happy connotation – great for a thank you gift.

The Correct Lilac Flower For A Funeral

To signify the purity of a soul, white lilac flowers are used at funerals. This white lilac symbolized life after death by the poet Walt Whitman when Abraham Lincoln passed away.

White lilac flowers are known to represent grief and mourning in Ancient Rome, and the flowers are placed in the tomb of the deceased.

A legend tells us about a time when a violet lilac was planted at a woman’s grave. The violet lilac bloomed into white flowers to symbolize her purity and innocence.

In Christianity, there is a tale that says that all lilacs were once white, but they turned violet after Mary saw her son’s crucifixion.

Are Lilacs Suitable For Elderly People?

Yes, lilacs are a great gift for older people because they induce the feeling of nostalgia. Lilacs will remind them of their youth and childhood and suggest that they will live for many more years.

Should I Give A Chef Lilacs?

Did you know that lilacs are edible? This makes lilacs a great gift to someone in the culinary business, as they can add the petals to salads or desserts. Lilac flowers might spark some creativity in the kitchen and can even be used to create a sugar or cocktail syrup.

The Cultural Significance Of Lilacs

The history of the lilac flower is (like many other flowers) rooted in Greek mythology. The story says that the god of fields and forests, Pan, fell in love with a nymph named Syringa. One day, Syringa was forced to disguise herself as a lilac shrub to avoid his advances.

Pan searched the forest to find Syringa, but he could not find her – instead, he found the lilac shrub. He then cut off the hollow reeds from the bush and created what we now refer to as the panpipe.

Lilacs were seen as magical by the Celtics because of the flowers’ sweet smell, whereas they symbolized old love in the Victorian age and became a flower worn by widows. In Russia, it is believed that holding a lilac over a newborn baby will bring them wisdom.

In the United States, New Hampshire has named the lilac as its official state flower, which is believed to represent its citizens’ tough, resilient nature.


Lilacs have been around for a long time, and their meaning and symbolism have changed over time. The next time you want to purchase a bouquet of lilac flowers, pay careful attention to the shade as the meaning of the flowers can change accordingly.