From the well-known song, to it’s iconic and unique beauty, the Edelweiss flower is regarded in Switzerland as a national symbol and a common theme on Bavarian and Austrian trachten. This wonderful flower has a unique history.
Edelweiss is not really a flower as such, but a set of 500 to a thousand tiny florets grouped in several heads (between 2 and 10 of them) surrounded by 5 to 15 white velvety leaves, that’s fertilized by flies.
“The Edelweiss was adopted as a national symbol in the 19th century to give back some lustre to a nation that was looking a bit washed out,” says Didier Roguet, project head and keeper of the Botanical Garden in Geneva “but no-one knew that this little silvery and hairy flower would become a real alpine celebrity.”
Over the years the edelweiss has been used to decorate a large number of products made in Switzerland, from postcards to chocolate bars, from folk costumes to sun lotions, and from penknives to purses.
The plant “migrated” to Europe during the Quaternary ice ages. Today it is found in the alpine region of Switzerland, Italy, France, Austria, Germany, Spain, and the Balkans at an altitude between 1,500 and 3,000 metros.
“The star of the snows” as the Edelweiss is sometimes called, is also a reminder of a dark past. “The Edelweiss was the favorite flower of Adolf Hitler. For that reason it was used as a symbol by the Nazis,” says the curator of the “Edelweiss – Myths and Paradoxes” national exhibition, which was on display in 2011 in Geneva.
In 1935, the German Wehrmacht formed an alpine unit which used the flower as part of the insignia on its uniforms. Towards the end of the Second World War, however, the Edelweiss became the symbol of the German resistance against Nazism.
The “Edelweiss pirates” were groups of young workers who had turned against Nazism and were active as a kind of urban guerrillas against the regime. For English-speaking people, the famous “Edelweiss” song in The Sound of Music is also associated with patriotic resistance to Nazism.
|The Rare Dirndl Edelweiss Icon
(designed by Sydney Musselman)
|The Edelweiss Clip on one of our Loose Knit Scarves!|
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