Spring is coming: 10 flower superstitions in Russia

Drawing by Dmitry Divin

Drawing by Dmitry Divin

Which flowers should you eat, which should you cast into the fire, and which should you use to tell your fortune? RBTH explores the fascinating beliefs associated with flowers in Russia.

1. Reconsider white carnations

Drawing by Dmitry Divin

The white carnation is a fabulous flower, a symbol of talent. But, according to a popular belief, white carnations may take away your talent and good luck. Those who want to present a performer on stage with flowers should avoid white carnations. On the other hand, placing a white carnation under the pillow will awake you inspired next morning.

2. Shed red tears

Drawing by Dmitry Divin

Here is another meaning of the carnation: If your eyes are bothered, rub them with red carnations – it will help. This belief comes from the biblical legend in which carnations sprang up where the Mother of Jesus’s tears fell as she cried over her son’s crucifixion.

3. Eat lilac petals 

Drawing by Dmitry Divin

That is very easy to explain: Most lilac flowers have four petals. Five or six are very uncommon, so extra petals are believed to bring luck. To snatch this rare opportunity, go and bite the flower.

4. Don't give your beloved ones red poppies

Drawing by Dmitry Divin

Red poppies are very soft and have the habit of losing petals. This is a symbol of weakness and fleeting love. So, if you don’t want to be a loser, keep yourself and your lady away from the poppies. Their seeds are believed to be more optimistic: At weddings people often eat millet porridge with poppy seeds to wish happiness to a newly married couple. Sometimes the seeds go straight to the couple’s shoes for future procreation.

5. Divination by lily of the valley

Drawing by Dmitry Divin

Many cultures have different legends about lily of the valley. According to the Russian tradition, the sea princess Volkhova fell in love with an adventurous merchant and gusli player, Sadko (the main character of the opera by Rimsky-Korsakov). But he took as his wife another girl named Lyubava. This made Volkova cry bitter tears of white lily, which today symbolizes pure and unrequited love.  

Since ancient times, lily of the valley has been used for divination in Russia, as well as chamomile. While divining by chamomile questions whether “he loves me” or “he doesn’t,” lily of the valley helps to make a wish. Each petal of the flower predicts if the wish “will come true soon,” “won’t come true soon” or “will never come true.”

6. Chamomile vs. mosquitoes and midges

Drawing by Dmitry Divin

These “sunny” flowers are well-known for their medicinal properties and are also used for love divination. Yet there is another less known Russian belief that throwing a bunch of chamomile into the fire will repel flies and mosquitoes. Those who have spent summer evenings in the central part of Russia would appreciate the advice. If you are going to camp in Russia or just enjoy partying with friends in the countryside, be sure to stock up with chamomile. 

7. Calla lily for a wedding brings divorce

Drawing by Dmitry Divin

White calla lilies look gorgeous with a wedding dress, but don't make a mistake by giving the bouquet to your Russian friends at a wedding. These flowers with their elegant sculpted form are a symbol of death, and in this case – that of the newly-concluded marriage. Having lilies at a wedding will split the couple pretty soon.

8. Don't give your sweetheart yellow flowers

Drawing by Dmitry Divin

There are two reasons why you should think twice before giving your love yellow flowers. Firstly, yellow stands for unfaithfulness; secondly, a bouquet of yellow flowers will lead to fights and a break-up. So, if you are a huge fan of yellow roses, it’s better to choose white or red flowers in Russia.

9. Faded flowers bring new acquisitions

Drawing by Dmitry Divin

Don’t throw away a bouquet of flowers; keep it for a few days. Flowers that fade in the house bring good news – the person who received them will get something new pretty soon.

10. Give an odd number of flowers

Drawing by Dmitry Divin

This is crucial. Never give people an even number of flowers. In Russia, they are reserved for grieving and funerals. No matter what you choose – tulips, irises or carnations, make sure they are in odd numbers (five, seven, nine etc.).

Read more: 10 common Russian superstitions>>>

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