Do You Bring Lilacs into the House?

Whilst writing this, the Ivor Novello song “We’ll Gather Lilacs in the Spring”  is going around my head, so I found this YouTube clip to share with you as you read this post.  It’s all about ambience and sets the scene!

I am sure, like me, there are many memories, happy and sad, from childhood that remain with you forever.   One sad moment was when I was about 10.  I picked some beautiful lilacs and brought them home for my mother.  To my bitter disappointment, instead of thanking me she was horrified and told them to take the out of the house immediately.  She eventually explained that lilacs were unlucky to have in the house.   To this day I have never brought them into my home.

I have two lilac trees, one in the back garden and one in the front.   The year before last they were magnificent and when the sun shone the fragrance of the one in the front wafted in the air, and you could smell the lilac halfway down the street.   Last year was disappointing, mainly because I know now that I pruned it at the wrong time, so I was a little more careful when pruning in 2013 and this has paid dividends.

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My friend and neighbour remarked on the lilac this morning and said that her mother brings armfuls into the house with the fragrance permeating throughout the home.   I told her I have never brought them into the house and explained why.   Then, I realised how silly I might be and Googled “unlucky lilac”.   Apparently, it is a very old folklore which considers that bringing lilac indoors was sure to bring about a family disaster.   Because of the powerful aroma, years ago  it was used to line coffins and mask the smell of death in a home.   On a lighter side, I also found something that said Victorian gardeners spread this superstition to stop people from stealing the blooms.

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It is great fun looking up information on the web and all sorts of interesting things pop up.   There are some  lovely paintings of girls clutching bunches of lilac and I particularly liked this one, with pale blue lilacs.

The Time of Lilacs by Sophie Anderson (1823-1903)

The Time of Lilacs by Sophie Anderson (1823-1903)

I also read it is white lilac that is really taboo, and the old superstition is only known in parts of the country.   So with that knowledge I bit the bullet, picked some blooms and with a deep breath and my fingers crossed, I brought them inside and the lounge smells marvellous.

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UPDATE: I woke in the night and after 50 years of believing lilac in the home was unlucky I couldn’t get beyond that. So got up and placed the lilacs outside!!
 

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14 thoughts on “Do You Bring Lilacs into the House?

  1. I bring boatloads of lilacs into the classroom and into my home and into the nursing home and EVERYONE loves it. Hard to grow in the SF Bay Area of CA.but so worth it. This year too little rain and too little cold gave me sparse blooms.

  2. Hi Ronnie,

    I do bring Lilacs into the house, however I don’t bring too much because I have a sensitive sense of smell and they trigger migraines if I’m not careful. Plus, I don’t actually have a Lilac, but I ‘borrow’ them from my neighbour (they overhang my garden), but I have a new neighbour now and think perhaps I shouldn’t remove the blooms this time (plus, it’s getting quite tall now and I struggle to reach the blooms anyway). So instead I’ll have to enjoy the lovely blooms from your blog instead :)

    Btw, I’d never heard of any folklore regarding Lilacs; those pesky Victorians knew what they were doing though! And who can blame them, after all I might not have been stealing them myself for the past 6 years…. Whoops.

  3. My mum always said the same thing! I always remember that and cringed when my colleague brought some into the office this week. They grow wild in the Fontainebleau forest. Thanks to your posting Ronnie I now know why they are considered unlucky. Btw one of my favourite songs of all time is ‘Lilac Wine’ by Elkie Brooks 😊

  4. I HARDLY SEE THEM IN AUCKLAND – TOO WARM – THEY LIKE THE COLD – MORE IN THE SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND – LOVE THEM!

  5. Haven’t heard this before – but neither do I have any lilacs to bring in. Come to think of it, I don’t think any grow in the neighbourhood either. I like the idea the story was spread to stop people stealing the blooms – but the strength of the scent might really be the reason – your headache going to show it.

  6. I have been brought up to believe the same thing and , to this day, would feel uncomfortable with them in the house, as, I suppose, I don’t want to wake the sleeping Gods of Ill Fortune! Funny isn’t it … we can be so logical and sensible about some things, but others are part of our DNA and too deeply ingrained to alter!

  7. Nice post Ronnie. I love lilac – reminds me of when i was little as we used to have a tree in the garden. I have some white lilac that I dried and put in my shabby chic bedroom. its been there over a year and lilac exit made me smile :-) x

  8. Family disasters are bound to happen. I doubt that Lilacs have any magical powers except to charm with their fragrance. I live south of where Lilacs get enough cold to bloom but have many happy memories of childhood Lilac bushes the size of small gazebos. We never connected any family mishaps with the great wads of Lilacs we brought inside.

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