The Easter legend of the dogwood

My mom and I were discussing dogwoods recently. They’re the state flower for North Carolina and the state tree/memorial tree/floral emblem for several other states (Missouri, New Jersey, Virginia).

We’re fortunate to have two pink dogwoods growing in our yard, and they’re in bloom right now, just in time for Easter.

Have you heard the Easter legend of the dogwood? I thought I’d share the version I’ve always heard with you today, this Wednesday of Holy Week. Perhaps you’ve heard a different version? Or never heard the legend at all? It goes a little something like this …

In Jesus’ time, the dogwood was a strong, sturdy tree with a thick trunk. As such, it was the ideal wood for crosses.

After Christ’s crucifixion, the dogwood—ashamed and distressed to have been an instrument of Jesus’ death—made a plea to God to never be used in such a horrible way again. So God made the dogwood tree much smaller, and though the wood remained strong, it was never again thick enough or strong enough to use for making crosses.

But the memory of the crucifixion would remain in its blooms to remind us all (human and dogwood alike) of the cross. The dogwood flower would have four petals to symbolize the cross, the tips stained red at the ends for the bloodied head, hands, and feet of Jesus.

At its center would be a crown reminiscent of the crown of thorns.

The dogwood became one of God’s protected trees, and to this day, it tells its tale of the cross every Easter.

As you travel through Holy week, may the dogwood remind you of the cross, and may it also remind you of renewed life and resurrection of Easter.

White dogwoods probably tell the tale a little better than pink dogwoods, but I hope you don’t mind me sharing the ones I have with you.

Do you have dogwoods where you live? What other plants remind you of Easter? For me, it’s not only dogwoods, but also pink azaleas that make me think, “Ahhh, it’s Easter.” (When I was young, my family painted Easter eggs at home, burning our fingertips to get the Hinkle’s dye dabbed on with q-tips before the eggs cooled. One of us painted at least one egg all pink, and Dad would hide it somewhere in the thicket of pink azalea blooming in our back yard. I cannot see pink azaleas blooming now without thinking of those Easter egg hunts.)

Happy Easter, my friends. May it bring you joy and peace.

4 thoughts on “The Easter legend of the dogwood

    • I’m learning that’s the case with many I’ve heard from this week. It makes sense there’d be no legend passed along in places where dogwoods aren’t present (or even prevalent).

  1. My parents told me this story of the Dogwood. I liked reading it. Thanks.
    Happy Easter to you and Chris!
    Barbara Latta

    • Glad to bring back a memory of you parents! I’m not sure where I first heard the legend, but my guess is Sunday School when I was little. Or perhaps my mom told it to me. Thanks for dropping by the blog. Happy Easter!

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