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Not just roses on Valentine's Day. The edelweiss as a message of love.

by Stefania Conci on Feb 09, 2023

Non solo rose a San Valentino. La stella alpina come messaggio d’amore. - La stanza nel bosco

The charm and magic of the edelweiss

The edelweiss (scientific name: Leontopodium Alpinum) is a flowering vegetable typical of mountainous places, considered a legend not only for its unique morphology in the world, but also for the requirements that characterize it.
Since the eighteenth century, this mysterious and elegant flower has become the symbol of love and purity since lovers who lived in the mountains (where the plant grows in high altitude pastures or among the rocks) used to climb the peaks to collect bouquets to give to their girlfriends.
The courage demonstrated by the intrepid climbers helped to make such a token of love even more welcome.
The charm and magic of edelweiss undoubtedly depend on its corolla formed by petals covered with a thick woolly layer, which make them very similar to scraps of fabric.
In reality, the hair plays a protective role as it limits transpiration and the elimination of water, allowing the plant to live and proliferate in extreme conditions.
Symbol not only of love, but also of the resilience and tenacity that characterize truly deep romantic relationships, this beautiful flower is often given as a gift on Valentine's Day.
In the language of flowers, the edelweiss indicates courage, tenacity and sincere love linked to the purity of the high mountains and, perhaps for this reason, it has become an undisputed icon of lovers' day.

Edelweiss: a message of love between history and legend



Due to its particular appearance, which cannot be confused with any other flower, the edelweiss has inspired many legends about its origins.
• One of the most evocative tells of a young man who, during an excursion in the high mountains, lost his bearings and never returned home, prompting his wife to go looking for him.
After some time the woman found her husband's body wedged between two ice floes that had imprisoned him and prevented him from saving himself.
The immense pain prevented her from abandoning her beloved, prompting her to watch over him for many hours during which, due to the frost, her hair was covered in ice and her body was transformed into a flower.
• Another legend tells that a mountain, being very high, was never climbed by anyone and that therefore this forced solitude made it sad and disconsolate, also due to the complete lack of vegetation.
In the sky, however, this pain did not go unnoticed and some stars decided to descend to the earth and rest on the cold rocks, transforming themselves into flowers to keep the mountain company.
• According to some mountain traditions, however, the edelweiss grew following the desperate cry of the Snow Queen, a legendary fairy who lived on the highest peaks and who, having a heart of ice, was unable to feel any feelings.
It was precisely the tears of the unfortunate Queen that generated these small flowers capable of growing even on rocks, crevasses and precipices.
• A legend that is handed down especially in some villages of the Alps is that concerning a little girl named Stella who, being in very poor health, fell seriously ill and died in a short time.
According to the myth, the father, annihilated by pain, went to the highest peaks every day to call his missing daughter and, precisely for this reason, the Gods, moved by the parent's suffering, sent him a symbol capable of remembering the 'beloved daughter.
Beyond these more or less romanticized stories, the edelweiss is undoubtedly a flowering specimen of great charm not only for its velvety appearance, but also for the incredible places where it can be admired.


Edelweiss protection




However, it must be taken into account that there is a precise regulation that prevents the collection of some mountain floral species, including the edelweiss, considered a protected plant.
The protection of these specimens is aimed at avoiding their extinction, given that, since they are spontaneous plants (difficult to cultivate) their survival could be endangered by man.
Precisely for this reason it is preferable to have or give away such a natural symbol such as our Edelweiss embroidered cushion or our cup with the queen of the mountains.


The edelweiss-shaped cushion is handcrafted (by hand) using polyester velvet, an ideal fabric for clothing and accessories for children and babies which, thanks to the type of workmanship, keeps its shape unchanged over time. Stain-resistant, breathable, hypoallergenic and can be easily washed in the washing machine at 30 degrees without losing its characteristics.
Available in two versions: small (22 X 22 X 6 centimeters) and large (39 X 39 X 6 centimeters), the pillow is also perfect as an unusual gift for young and old.


It must be taken into account that these plants are unfortunately a rather rare sight by now, since the indiscriminate harvesting they have undergone has contributed to greatly reducing their presence on the planet.
Only in the second half of the 19th century did the vegetable, also known by the name "wool flower", become one of the symbols of Switzerland, a country where it grows easily up to over 2500-3000 meters above sea level.

On the Matterhorn some varieties have been discovered that live at over 3150 meters, an absolute record for any plant form.
Its inaccessibility, combined with its unusual appearance, have meant that this flower has always been considered magical and endowed with uncommon powers towards both humans and animals.
Perhaps due to the aura of mystery it releases and an undeniable charm, the edelweiss has gained considerable value in the symbolism of love and sentimentality, also because the fact that it is so difficult to collect it has made it an icon of love associated with courage and tenacity.
While respecting the regulations that protect the management of plants, edelweiss is increasingly valued as a sentimental message between lovers.


Edelweiss: an icon of love among flowers


There are those who consider it the absolute icon of love because its habitat is that of high altitudes, where the settlement of human beings is very difficult and where its presence is linked to the legends of many emotional ties.

Relationships between lovers and between fathers and children, marital relationships and much more represent the themes that link this flower to love.
In nature there are about 30 different varieties of the species which is always characterized by a biological cycle under the banner of the most extreme conditions, both environmental and climatic.
The binomial love-courage is undoubtedly one of the most widespread meanings regarding the edelweiss which is also depicted on many backgrounds, to symbolize the typical mountain culture.
Its value extends far beyond the Alpine arc, so much so that many lovers usually dry the flowers and then use them to make medallions, pendants or simple bags to hang around the neck as a symbol of love.
To enhance the many characteristics of this plant, for Valentine's Day an alternative idea to the usual bouquet of flowers could be to give a handcrafted cushion in the shape of an edelweiss.

In this way it is possible to enjoy the unusual softness of a decidedly unconventional ornamental object.

Story of a magical flower

Between the end of June and the first days of September, when the flowering of the plant reaches its maximum, naturalists usually leave the shelters at the crack of dawn to reach the highest peaks.
Since past centuries, the collection of edelweiss (in areas where it was permitted) was an activity that engaged entire generations of mountaineers who tried to draw some resources from very inhospitable territories.

Even women and children used to accompany the heads of families to contribute to this activity, which was limited to only two months a year.
As early as the 19th century, small craft businesses had sprung up in Switzerland and Austria for the creation of pictures, frames and souvenirs decorated with these flowers, small objects to give as a token of love.

Once dried, the edelweiss were then packaged and shipped all over the world, especially to countries where it was not possible to collect them.
History reports numerous episodes on these vegetables, which for years have represented a symbol of the mountain and not only of the Alps.
In many areas, where the picking of flowers was allowed, it was however strictly forbidden to uproot the plants, to avoid the extinction of the species.

The ban on harvesting was already in place at the end of the 1800s when the species was declining in many wooded areas.
Contrary to what one might think, the plant is not native to the Alps, but to Central Asia (Mongolia and Tibet), areas from which it then spread to Europe.
Symbol of resilience and eternal youth, it develops over large plots of land, creating scenarios with a strong visual impact, also thanks to the stark contrast between the ivory-white of the flowers and the sage-green of the leaves.
Its German name "edelweiss" literally means "noble white" as the flower is characterized by a refined elegance mainly due to the woolly covering of its parts.

An expanse of edelweiss is an unforgettable sight, which has always stimulated trekking enthusiasts to reach often inaccessible places.
However, admiring this flower does not mean picking it, as the risk of extinction of the species is always present and therefore it is necessary to respect its natural habitat.
According to Italian law, anyone who collects even a single specimen can incur a fine of up to 12,000 euros, as well as a criminal complaint.

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