The name Lily comes from the Greek word Leirion, meaning Madonna. It’s earliest English reference can be found in the writings of the Venerable Bede, who died in 735. He made the lily the flower of the Resurrection of the Virgin. The white petals signifying her body and the yellow anthers her soul.
The lily and the rose have long been rivals for the title of Queen of the Flowers.
In early Christian legend the lily is alleged to have sprung from the repentant tears of Eve as she left the Garden of Eden. In Greek mythology it is the flower of Hera, goddess of the light, sky, marriage and motherhood.
A Roman legend reveals that Jupiter caused Somnus, god of sleep, to prepare a sleeping draught for Juno, goddess of the light, marriage & motherhood who soon fell into a profound sleep. Jupiter then placed a baby to her breast in order that it might drink the divine milk and ensure immortality. The little Hercules, over-eager, drew the milk too quickly causing a few drops to fall to Earth. The white lily thus represents purity.
More broadly, the lily also signifies bashfulness, celestial beauty, chastity, divine nuptials, eternal love, grace, heavenly bliss, queenliness. It is the flower associated with Easter and the flower of the age of the spirit to come, when men will live in plenitude and love.
To dream of a lily means good luck.