History of the Edelweiss Flower & Why We LOVE it!

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 original home of the Edelweiss is in the high plateau of the Himalayas and Siberia, but somehow my grandfather learned to grow the beautiful flower in his garden!

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.

“It can no longer be regarded as an endangered species, seeing as it has been cultivated in Valais since the 90s. But it is protected in almost all the countries where it grows,” explains Roguet.

“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.

Today the image of the Edelweiss continues to adorn many items to represent, Switzerland, Austria and Southern Germany. It is the logo for many trachten companies in Germany and it’s our icon too! The Rare Dirndl Edelweiss icon is a unique design taking the traditional shape of the flower and giving it a fresh, edgy street look.

The Rare Dirndl Edelweiss Icon
(designed by Sydney Musselman)
I’ve also created fun and unique Edelweiss clips that can be put in your hair, on your jacket, on your bag… wherever! Its a great little item and has a felt center that has the look and feel of a real Edelweiss!
The Edelweiss Clip on one of our Loose Knit Scarves!

Do you love the Edelweiss flower as much as I do?

Be sure to follow Rare Dirndl @raredirndl on Instagram and on Facebook because all this week I’ll be posting all the fun items with the Edelweiss on it that is either in my own apartment or in the Rare Dirndl Design Studio. I’d love for you to comment back via social media of all your Edelweiss things using #raredirndl and #myedelweiss! Maybe it’ll turn out to be a battle of the Edelweisses!!!


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