Butterflies symbolize many different things depending on where you live in the world. While some cultures view butterflies as a symbolism of transformation, love, or wisdom, other cultures view them with suspicion and apprehension - butterflies to them are omens of a less desirable nature.
In the Chinese culture, the butterfly symbolizes love. According to an old Chinese legend, butterflies are a symbol of the undying bond between lovers. It is a common practice for newlyweds to receive a gift with a butterfly symbol on it on their wedding day; it is meant to remind the couple of the energy of love. The Chinese also believe that the fluttering from flower to flower symbolizes a good social life for the young.
Knowledge & Wisdom
In some cultures, butterflies are a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. Butterflies carry pollen from flower to flower so some cultures relate this activity to wise men spreading their wisdom and knowledge from person to person and helping them grow.
Dream interpreters have several meaning for the presence of butterflies in dreams. Some teach that if you simply see a butterfly in your dream, it means that you need to settle down in life. If you catch or kill a butterfly in your dream, it symbolizes that you are superficial, and if you see two butterflies in your dream, it represents a long and happy marriage.
While many cultures associate the charms of the butterfly with various positive symbols, other cultures believe that the butterfly symbolizes bad omens. In medieval times, a flock of butterflies was a bad omen that predicted an upcoming epidemic or war. In ancient times, Celts believed that if you saw a butterfly flying at night, it meant impending death. Some early Americans followed this Celtic tradition by believing that if a white butterfly circled a person, it meant death was certain - bad news for sure!
In contrast, the Christian religion has long held that the butterfly symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While in the cocoon, the caterpillar seems dead; but later, the butterfly emerges more powerful and beautiful than before. And just as Jesus ascended into heaven, the butterfly now too can fly into the heavens with its new set of wings. In the Christian religion, the metamorphosis of the butterfly also symbolizes the spiritual evolution that Christians go through when become Christian.
Transformation & Change
That leads us to the most common and obvious symbol of butterflies for modern society: transformation. The butterfly's life is one of transformation through the impressive process of metamorphosis. Many people believe that the butterfly's transformation symbolizes change in a person's life. The cocoon phase can be translated as introspection or reflection with the person emerging from the cocoon metamorphosed into a different person. Butterflies can teach us a lesson to accept change in our lives as easily as a butterfly does.