This is the flower commonly known as a Lenten Rose. I photographed it in my garden this afternoon.
Of course, it is not a rose at all. It is a Helleborus. This one is Helleborus Orientalis.
I suppose the flower is named after Lent, a time of penitinence and fasting in the Christian faiths, because it blooms in many parts of the world around the time of Lent. But the word “Lent” itself comes from the Old English word for springtime, and its use should simply denote the changing season, not penance. And here in Berkeley, my Lenten Roses bloom now (at the end of January). Ash Wednesday is not even to be considered.
A flower as extravagantly beautiful as my Helleborus should not be paired with penitence and punishment, but rather the wild ravishment of the soul and happiness that unfettered nature can bring.
Here’s a close-up view of my un-Lent, un-penitent Lenten un-rose:
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