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the fleur de lis

Most of us recognize the fleur de lis as a popular symbol associated with the celebration of Mardi Gras, particularly within the confines of its epicenter, New Orleans.  But this pretty little symbol that adorns our bracelets and beads every February has a rich and lengthy history, in both Europe and it’s current Louisiana homeland.  For starters, the name of the symbol itself, as you’ve no doubt already guessed, derives from classical French as “fleur (flower) – de – lis (lily),” or “flower of the lily,” more acutely, “lily flower.”  And that’s precisely what it is: a stylized artistic representation of a lily.

Many connected symbols fall under this umbrella across the entirety of medieval and present Europe, including depictions of similar flora such as the iris or crocus. In fact, the fleur is hardly exclusive to France.  Coats of arms from several municipalities in over a dozen European countries contain the fleur de lis or similar lily-like symbols, including Denmark, Finland, and Italy.  In modern day Louisiana, the fleur, which has been an official state symbol since 2008, has become an emblem of support for the New Orleans reconstruction effort following Hurricane Katrina.  It is also found in the insignia or flags of several sports teams and clubs from the state, including the New Orleans Saints and the LSU Corps of Cadets.

 fleur de lis body jewelry

It’s unclear exactly when the first instance of a fleur de lis worn as jewelry occurred, but what is known is that several famous historical figures did adopt it as adornment, including Phillip II and Louis VII.  It has also featured in the crown jewels of England and some crowns associated with papacy.

Amongst the more traditional items to be emblazoned with a fleur de lis are the ring, the pendant, and the brooch.  Today however, it can be found worldwide printed on almost anything.  From simple flower, to international superstar, the fleur de lis retains many meanings to many people, and is certainly worthy of celebration.

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