The Mandarin Chinese word for butterfly is “hu-tieh”. “Tieh” means “70 years”, therefore butterflies have become a symbol for a long life. In this culture butterflies have also become representative of young men in love.
In the Japanese culture butterflies are thought to be representative of young maidens and marital bliss. Many Japanese families use the butterfly in the family crest design.
Germany has a very unique belief about butterflies. As butterflies can often be found hovering about milk pails or butter churns, they have become associated with witches trying to steal the cream. The German word for butterfly is “Schmetterling”, which is actually derived for the Czech word “Smetana” which means “cream”.
There are many links with butterflies in mythology from all over the world, many of which, in particular Greek mythology, link butterflies to the human soul. The Ancient Greeks also considered butterflies as the souls of those who had passed away.
In ancient Greek the word for butterfly is “Psyche”, which translated means “soul”. This was also the name for Eros’ human lover and when the two figures are depicted they are often surrounded by butterflies.
In one of the Russian dialects, butterflies are referred to as “dushuchka” which is a derivative of the word “dusha” also meaning soul. There is also an Irish saying that refers to the symbolic meaning of butterflies. This saying is: “Butterflies are souls of the dead waiting to pass through purgatory”.
There is a small town in Mexico that also associate butterflies with souls. It is to this town that Monarch Butterflies migrate every year, around the holiday known as the Day of the Dead. The people of this town see these butterflies as the returning souls of the deceased.
Butterfly symbolism is closely tied to the idea of spirits and souls. It has been also been used in many religions and cultures. In the western world, the symbol of the butterfly stands for freedom, fun and joyous times. It is also symbolises a state of naturalness and purity.
In the Christian religion, the metamorphosis a butterfly undergoes is symbolic of the spiritual evolution all Christains go through. Butterflies are all small and appear to be the same(like the catapillar), but as we grow older our true beauty shows. Like a butterfly, we are all different, and beautiful in our own way.
In ancient mythology, the butterfly stands for wisdom and everlating knowledge. Butterflies symbolizes change or transformation in many cultures purely because they change from one thing into another.
There is a Native American legend that says, ” If you have a secret wish, capture a butterfly and whisper your wish to it. Since butterflies cannot speak, your secret is ever safe in their keeping. Release the butterfly, and it will carry your wish to the Great Spirit, who alone knows the thoughts of butterflies. By setting the butterfly free, you are helping to restore the balance of nature, and your wish will surely be granted.”