from Thanksgiving. They lasted quite well and are only just showing signs of fading. I gave them a lot of TLC with fresh water and plant food. My flowers today were identified as Florist Daisies but I recognize the Chrysanthemum and a few Asters in there.
I thought I would find out about the language of flowers today. The symbolic language of flowers has been recognized for centuries in many countries throughout Europe and Asia. They even play a large role in William Shakespeare's works. Mythologies, folklore, sonnets, and plays of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Chinese are peppered with flower and plant symbolism - and for good reason.
Nearly every sentiment imaginable can be expressed with flowers. The orange blossom, for instance, means chastity, purity, and loveliness, while the red chrysanthemum means "I love you."
Learning the special symbolism of flowers became a popular pastime during the 1800s. Nearly all Victorian homes had, alongside the Bible, guidebooks for deciphering the “language,” although definitions shifted depending on the source. Following the protocol of Victorian-era etiquette, which you can see a delightful page here full of information, flowers were primarily used to deliver messages that couldn’t be spoken aloud. In a sort of silent dialogue, flowers could be used to answer “yes” or “no” questions. A “yes” answer came in the form of flowers handed over with the right hand; if the left hand was used, the answer was “no.” Plants could also express aversive feelings, such as the “conceit” of pomegranate or the “bitterness” of aloe. Similarly, if given a rose declaring “devotion” or an apple blossom showing “preference,” one might return to the suitor a yellow carnation to express “disdain.” How flowers were presented and in what condition were important. If the flowers were given upside down, then the idea being conveyed was the opposite of what was traditionally meant. How the ribbon was tied said something, too: Tied to the left, the flowers’ symbolism applied to the giver, whereas tied to the right, the sentiment was in reference to the recipient. And, of course, a wilted bouquet delivered an obvious message!
More examples of plants and their associated human qualities during the Victorian era include bluebells and kindness, peonies and bashfulness, rosemary and remembrance, and tulips and passion. The meanings and traditions associated with flowers have certainly changed over time, and different cultures assign varying ideas to the same species, but the fascination with “perfumed words” persists just the same.
Let's not forget the wedding bouquet, one tradition is to select flowers based on plant symbolism. As an example, look to the royal flower bouquet in the wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, to Kate Middleton (now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge). Her all-white bouquet had lily-of-the-valley (representing trustworthiness, purity), sweet William (gallantry), hyacinth (loveliness), myrtle (love in marriage), and ivy (continuity). Altogether, these flowers' meanings reveal the hope of a loving, everlasting marriage.
The groom, too, wears a flower that appears in the bridal bouquet in his button-hole. This stems from the Medieval tradition of wearing his Lady's colors, as a declaration of his love.
One fun modern idea is to give each bridesmaid a bouquet featuring a signature flower whose meaning suits her personality.
There is a language, little known,
Lovers claim it as their own.
Its symbols smile upon the land,
Wrought by nature's wondrous hand;
And in their silent beauty speak,
Of life and joy, to those who seek
For Love Divine and sunny hours
In the language of the flowers.
–The Language of Flowers, London, 1875
The illustration below was printed in England/The Regent Publishing Co. Ltd. and the photo credit is from Dumbarton Oaks Archives.
My goodness, I knew of each flower having a special meaning, but I found out so much more doing a little research. You can read a page here for instance. I could have filled a book but I'll give you all a break and stop before I find more!
Happy December everyone!
Regardless of the possibly hidden meaning, I always welcome a bouquet of flowers.ReplyDelete
Yes, I love a bouquet of flowers, so cheerful :)Delete
I knew each flower has a meaning, but did not know any of these other details! Your bouquet is gorgeous. And the yellow is magnificent, like the sun come down to earth.ReplyDelete
Thank you Ginny, seeing the sun light up the yellow had me picking up my camera :)Delete
Extraordinary beauty all the way around. I especially enjoyed (and reading) the research done on Kate's bouquetReplyDelete
So glad you enjoyed Anni, thank you :)Delete
What a beautiful bouquet.ReplyDelete
Thank you Ann, I thought so too :)Delete
Your Thanksgiving bouquet is beautiful, lovely blooms. I enjoyed your language of flowers post. Have a great day!
Happy you enjoyed Eileen. Thank you and you have a great day also :)Delete
Your flower bouquet is beautiful.ReplyDelete
Thank you Linda :) When I saw them I just loved that Autumnal color combination.Delete
Thank you Anne :)Delete
I had no idea that there was a flower language! And now I am wishing that I could see the people from the Victorian age that use that to figure out what the flowers net when they could just tap their phone and find out immediatelyReplyDelete
I remember from years ago that there was something. It set me on my search for this post. I loved finding these things out :) Wouldn't that be a hoot! I wonder even what our grandparents would have said, or even our parents for that matter.Delete
Wow, I had no idea!! This is fascinating.ReplyDelete
Thanks Yogi, glad you thought so :)Delete
Very beautiful flowers! Interesting to see what red carnations symbolize. I buy carnations for my table quite often.ReplyDelete
Thank you Gigi! I love carnations, they were very much a part of my parents' flower garden.Delete
I love flowers!ReplyDelete
Me too Christine, me too :)Delete
Fresh flowers just change the room - lovely bouquet you have!ReplyDelete
I do so agree Carol, and thank you :)Delete
Fascinating social creatures aren't we -or perhaps antisocial today lolReplyDelete
We certainly are Cloudia, lol!Delete
Thank you William :)Delete
This was a fun read....I never would remember all symbolism so would have to have a book to look it up.ReplyDelete
I know what you mean Rose and I am glad you found it fun :)Delete
So many different meanings behind each flower! The language of flowers is so interesting. Your lovely bouquet is so cheerful, Denise. I'm trying to hold onto a similar arrangement from our Thanksgiving table. Thank you for such detail on this very interesting subject.ReplyDelete
Thank you Martha Ellen and you are very welcome. Mine are still with me thankfully, a little droopier than they were but still pretty :)Delete
Interesting to read about the flowers Denise. These are very beautiful and they are still looking good.ReplyDelete
Happy you thought so Margaret and thank you :)Delete
Pretty pictures, interesting post. Once my husband hid a bouquet he bought ahead of an occasion but did not water them. I was not pleased when he presented me with dead flowers!ReplyDelete
Thanks Linda, I had to smile at the story you told me about your husband :)Delete
A fascinating subject well researchedReplyDelete
Thank you Margaret, appreciate that :)Delete
That's a beautiful bouquet of chrysanthemums Denise and the colour combination looks great. I appreciate chrysanths because they last. We have them growing in the garden. They took a battering from the recent snow do now I've cut some to arrange in a vase. The language of flowers is interesting. I know that chrysanthemums are not given as a gift in Italy as they're associated with funerals. Roses, of course, are often given instead. I still love chrysanths especially the ones my husband grows. :)ReplyDelete
Yes Linda, they are a hardy flower and I'm glad for it. I saw your snow pictures. Certainly looks beautiful! Interesting about the meaning of chrysanthemums in Italy. Lovely that you have them growing in your garden :)Delete
Ah, alive flowers! Lovely.They lasted well.ReplyDelete
They certainly did and still are Jenn, at least hanging in there :)Delete
Beautiful flowers, such a wonderful mix of colours.ReplyDelete
All the best Jan
Thank you Jan, I am happy you liked them :) All the best to you too.Delete