Old English tradition considers lilac to be an unlucky flower which should not be carried into the house. This tradition is particularly strong in Norfolk and surrounding areas.
It is often suggested that the lilac flower – especially the white blossom – is associated with death and that’s why lilac is unlucky. As a result lilac is especially unwelcome in hospitals.
To understand how to cope with lilac in the house we need to look at more closely at the superstition.
The Lilac Tree was once associated with faeries. The fragrance of the tree was so sweet and powerful that it would entice fairfolk and to have lilac flowers in the house would lure the faeries inside.
Faeries were often feared. They were wild and unpredictable. Even pranks and games might prove to be deadly. Worse of all faeries would kidnap people and carry them to the realm of the fey.
The association lilac has with death originates from these roots – people going away and not coming back.
In order to safely display lilac in the house householders should take steps to keep faeries away. There are a number of methods for this. Faeries, it is said, will not cross a line of salt and are vulnerable to cold iron but neither of these methods are particular appropriate for modern households.
Wind chimes serve to distract faeries both with their tinkle and motion. To avoid the lilac bad luck consider putting up wind chimes.
In Pure Spirit
Are you superstitious? Do traditions and fears which originated hundreds of years ago in England mean anything to you today?
Roger A. Briggs says
A very interesting article. I don't really want to comment off the top of my head after just reading it. I do have to ask though, isn't it actually more the "wood nymphs" that are reputed to be the tricksters and/or evil ones?
I look forward to any and all comments or responses.
Tony Green says
Wood Nymphs, Faeries, Leprachauns, Goblins, aren't they all the same but different names in different locallities?
jennie stevens says
In pre reformation times Catholics would use lilac in their homes or church as a gift to Our Lady as May is dedicated to her. After the reformation if the smell of lilac was detected in the house it would mean the family were Catholic and this led to severe penalties.