Summer is such a wonderful time of year, with so many things to celebrate and be thankful for. A time when nature freely gives her gifts free of charge with no strings attached. To me, summer is like the Earth has just exploded with colorful and delicious gifts like a beautiful mess of presents and toys and pretty things under a Christmas tree during the holidays.
The sunflower has been a powerful symbolic image ever since its beginning really. It’s hard to look at one and not think happy thoughts-big, bright and yellow growing tall with its face toward the sun. What’s not to like? Many different cultures have held the flower at significance. Native Americans used the in summer harvest festivals as a symbol of nourishment, bounty and provision. Chinese symbolism regards the sunflower as a token of long life and good luck. In Greece it was the symbol of Clytie the water nymph, turning her face toward the sun in mourning for the loss of her lover, Apollo (the Sun God). Modern Christian churches use it as a symbol of God’s love-I’m almost certain pictures of them adorn the majority of children’s Sunday school classes today…at least they did when I was growing up.
Not just a pretty face, sunflowers were originally a valuable commodity and important food source for native people from as early as 1000 BC. Thousands of years later they are is still one of the healthiest foods you can add to your diet. Sunflower seeds are loaded in essential Vitamins E and B1 as well as a good source of copper, protein and healthy fats. You can snack on the seeds alone, sprinkle some on a salad or replace vegetable oil with sunflower oil when cooking. It’s delicious, healthy and in season.
No matter if sunflowers have any symbolic meaning to you or if they excite your tastebuds, they are simply a happy and pretty piece of flora. I love adding them to my home during the summer months. This time of year they are widely available at any grocery store or farmer’s market. You could do your own artful arrangement with other in season floral varieties, but I’m a bit of a sunflower purist and prefer them by themselves in a classic Mason jar on the kitchen table. The ULTIMATE summer sunflower experience is to visit a sunflower farm with fields full of giant, sunny flowers. If you live in the Northeast this is a very attainable feat! There are many sunflower farms in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania just a google and a road trip away.
There are tons of ways to enjoy the gift of the sunflower this summer. I’ll be sharing my sunflower finds on my Instagram all summer long and can’t wait to see how you enjoy them this season! Share your photos with us too- especially if you make it out to a sunflower field!