14 November 2012

The Meaning of Flowers

The Meaning Of Flowers

A bouquet of flowers is a wonderful gift. A cheerful bunch of daisies, roses, carnations, and iris are welcome at any special occasion; they're also a perfect way to tell someone you love them. A flower arrangement make excellent “just because” gifts, birthday gifts, and presents given at bridal showers and baby showers. Graduates, newlyweds, and people moving into their first house are all likely to receive gifts of floral arrangements.

Bouquets have been a traditional gift for countless generations and they have remained popular because of their natural beauty and lovely scent. Even though bouquets and arrangements are frequently given, not many people know that there is a rich history behind the art of selecting of a flower. 

The Flower Language
In the late Victorian era and the early years of the twentieth century, couples falling in love were typically kept under close supervision. The role of the chaperone took on particular importance in the United States and Western Europe during this time. Couples had to get to know one another by meeting in public or under the watchful eye of a chaperone. To express their feelings in a socially acceptable way, two people falling in love would exchange small tokens during courtship.

Bouquets and flower arrangements became a very popular token of affection because a flower included in the arrangement could express very specific messages. Each flower was given a certain meaning and, when bundled together, could contain as much information as a love letter. 

Love and Longing
Many of the meanings attributed to various blooms had to do with love and longing, which suggests just how frequently a flower was used to express sentiment between lovers. Some of these blooms are unfamiliar to us today though would have been well known to most middle-class Victorians.

    • Yellow acacia: Secret love
    • Flowering almond: Hope
    • Double aster: I share your sentiment
    • Rose of Sharon (Syrian Mallow): Consumed by love
    • Bluebell: Constancy
    • Calla: Exceptional beauty
    • Red carnation: Pure love
    • Ivy: Fidelity in marriage

Lovers weren't the only ones to express messages through bouquets. Friends would also exchange small presents with one another, including flower arrangements.

    • Jasmine: You are cheerful
    • Acacia: Friendship
    • Allspice: Compassion
    • Coreopsis: Always cheerful
    • Yellow crocus: Mirth
    • Olive branch: Peace

Comfort During Loss
Even though a flower might be used to communicate love and affection between friends and couples, a bouquet might also be used to express sympathy and condolences during times of loss.  The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were marked by high mortality rates, especially among young children.  Diseases that now can be vaccinated against and effectively treated, caused many deaths during those years.  Certain blossoms and branches were used to support a family who had recently lost someone close.

o   Red poppy:  Consolation
o   Adonis:  Sorrowful remembrance
o   Flowering reed:  Confidence in heaven
o   Rosemary:  Remembrance
o   Snowdrop: Hope
o   Syringa:  Memory
o   Balm:  Sympathy
o   Buckbean:  Calm repose

Today’s Flower Meanings
The detailed lists of flower meanings went out of vogue after the First World War.  As the twentieth century advanced, the traditional flower meanings because interesting points of trivia though were no longer widely incorporated into bouquets or gifts.  Still, interest in this historic practice has endured.  You can add a special personal touch to your next floral arrangement by incorporating some of these old messages into your new bouquet.

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