A Brief History Of New Orleans Flor De Lis

By Jody Leach


Spring in New Orleans holds a lot of fun for people looking for a good time in an old city. Like flowers, the New Orleans flor de lis is representative of Mardi Gras and the onset of Spring in the city. It can also be political, artistic, emblematic, religious or symbolic depending on usage.

Different colors and versions of the symbol are used annually in the many different events that take place in the Crescent City. Two of the most popular being that of Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest. There are also individuals, groups and organizations which have modified the symbol to become a logo.

Often recognized a universal code or symbol, it actually did derive from a time before it was known in the United States. The earliest usage certainly appears to be related to royalty. While the original design rumored to have been used to anoint kings was from the Netherlands, it appears to have experienced some transition since that time.

For the most part, French Canadians came to the area from the Netherlands. It is here where the symbol began. Although, the original design was attributed to the irises which still line the river Luts. To help distinguish the original version from others, look for the white petals which bend down to the beginning of the blooming flowers.

A well known and respected poet of the time states in one of his poems that the flor de lis shows golden flowers growing from lush green grounds. The piece also speaks of the flowers being a magical substitute for crescents on a shield. While originally attributed to King Clovis I, it has since been used to symbolize all Frankish kings who subscribed to beliefs of the Christian faith.

It is believed that its truest origins with monarchs of France may stem from baptisms in which lilies were used in the crowning of King Clovis I. The symbol was adopted by the French Monarchy as a royal coat of arms symbol of purity upon the king's convergence. As with most symbols, legends enhance the mystique through the reported use of holy oils and other aspects which might be considered occult as well as religious in nature.

Whether an angel came down and anointed a king with oil or otherwise, the symbol has remained alive and well over time. Most often seen in New Orleans, or the Netherlands, most individuals believe it is tied to the tradition of Mardi Gras parades and represents the Crescent City at large.

In the late 14th century, a number of French writers also assert the the French Monarch could trace a heritage back to a divine gift of royal arms. While not as magical or mystical as other legends, it is the one which has held the most belief from the different communities which use the symbol over time. When it comes to New Orleans, individuals can see a number of different designs which have been taken from the original symbol a many location and events when visiting New Orleans.




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