That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty"
- William Shakespere, The Winter's Tale
The daffodil, also known as the jonquil or narcissus, is believed to have been brought to Britain by the Romans, who mistakenly believed that its sap could heal wounds. (In fact, daffodil sap contains sharp crystals that prevent animals from eating the flower. While it did little to heal the Romans' wounds, it succeeded in further irritating their skin!)
Today, people associate the bright, yellow daffodil as a symbol of rebirth — a sign of the new beginnings that come with spring. Indeed, the daffodil is the birthday flower for March, the month in which the spring equinox begins. Daffodils are said to bring good fortune to the person who avoids trampling on them. Lest they bring unhappy vanity to the bride, daffodils should never be present at a wedding.
The Greeks originally associated daffodils with death. According to Greek myth, daffodils grew in the meadows of the Underworld, kingdom of the dead. It was here that Hades captured Persephone after she had strayed from her companions to pick some daffodils. The daffodil's alternate name, narcissus, is associated with the handsome Greek youth Narcissus. While walking by a river one day, Narcissus stooped to take a drink. Wanting to possess the image of himself he saw in the water, he leaned further over and drowned. The daffodil's "drooping" is said to symbolize Narcissus still stooping to admire himself.
While daffodils can be taken to say, "my fond hopes have been dashed by your behavior," they mostly say, "the sun is always shining when I'm with you." For the most part, daffodils signify unrequited love, great regard and respect, and chivalry.