Marigold Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Depending on where you’ll live, you’ll either associate the marigold with autumn, or the dizzy height of summer, depending on when it survives where you live. 

Marigolds primarily come in warm, uplifting tones of yellow, orange, and red, or a combination of these. In some places, they’re even a tender perennial, while in colder climates, they are brief annuals.

Marigolds can range in size, but they’re usually fairly compact plants, and are suitable for nearly every occasion you can think of.

They also have antiseptic properties, as well as the extract of marigold (see also Calendula Plant Uses), which is often a topical balm used to treat wounds, rashes, and burns. 

Marigolds also have antispasmodic properties, which stops muscle spasms, but never try to attempt a home remedy, unless you know exactly what you’re doing, why, how, and you’re sure it won’t affect you negatively.

What does ‘Marigold’ Mean?

There are two main groups of marigolds, and the names can be interchangeable, depending on the variety.

Calendulas are the first family, which is Latin for “little clock”.

Tagetes is the other family. This name comes from the Etruscan religion, for the founding prophet, Tages, who was said to spring from the earth fully formed as it was plowed. 

This probably refers to how the flowers grow really easily from seed, and the plant can even regrow from an old stump left in the ground. 

The name ‘marigold’ itself is Old English, coming from ‘Marigold’, which was one of the first names for Calendula officinalis (see also Flower Names That Start With C).

It also refers to the practice of the flower given as an offering in place of gold coins, usually to the Virgin Mary (Mary’s Gold). 

What do Marigolds Represent?

Because this plant comes in exclusively balmy colors, they have similarly positive meanings. 

Marigolds symbolize creativity and the ‘warmth’ of success and feeling productive, beauty, positivity, and the joy someone brings to your life. 

They also embody the vital will to succeed, which can color many different areas of your life.  

The flowers themselves, in their warm tones, also help lift someone’s mood, which can sometimes help them see something differently. Perhaps they’ll even gain a perspective which will serve them in the future.

What is the Cultural Significance Behind the Marigold?

In the most literal sense, marigolds are ‘sacrificial’ plants. No, really. They help mask the scent of crops, roses, and other precious plants, those which pests are inevitably drawn to. 

Some pests will then attack the marigold plant instead, and others will be repelled. I mention this, because it’s apt.

Marigolds, even for centuries, have been offerings or even sacrifices to gods in many different cultures. 

The flower is closely linked to the sun in Hinduism, and it symbolizes positivity, as well as appearing as wedding decorations, as they’re linked to Lord Vishnu and the Goddess Lakshmi, which are thought to be the epitome of the ideal couple. 

In Mexico, marigolds feature heavily in the Day of the Dead celebrations. It’s believed that these bright flowers attract the spirits of the dead with their intensity and the fragrance, almost as a homing beacon for those who have died, to visit their loved ones again.

In both Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt, marigolds were used for healing, to relieve pain, to help speed up the healing of wounds, sores and burns, and they also used them to flavor food and drink.

In the Victorian language of flowers, marigolds represent grief, jealousy, or a love that won’t last.

What does a Marigold Tattoo Mean?

Marigold tattoos come in every color imaginable, or even black and white, but they usually have a universal meaning of positivity or remembrance for a loved one. 

It’s also worth noting that the meaning from the Victorian language of flowers has translated – at least, in this case – to tattoos. 

Marigold tattoos can represent grief, or cruelty, but it all depends on the context and the owner of the tattoo, as the symbolism is all very subjective, especially when a flower can have multi-layered meanings.

When Should You Give Someone a Marigold?

There’s probably not a wrong time to give someone marigolds as a gift. 

They cover pretty much all bases, from joy, positivity, celebration, to nostalgia, grief, remembrance, honor, and religious celebrations.

The great thing about flowers with multiple meanings is that they can mean whatever you want them to. 

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