Flowers may not have a memory like water does according do some scientific research, but they have been around for quite some time now–long enough that they have their own language!
On this joyful Water A Flower Day, Bookstr decided to celebrate by sharing some history, symbols, and meanings of our favorite flowers!
According to Floriography by Jessica Roux, although the language of flowers goes back several centuries in Europe and Asia, and was first attributed to the Turks in the 17th century, it has gained popularity in the Victorian Era (1837-1901) where flowers had all sorts of symbols, and were used to send secret messages and communicate feelings that weren’t socially acceptable at the time.
Fun fact: a small bouquet of flowers was known as a tussie-mussie or a nosegay!
Floriography – or the language of flowers – however, is not an exact science, and I am not an expert in deciphering their secret messages. I have compiled a non-exhaustive list of flowers and their meanings during and after the Victorian Era, but this article is purely for entertainment and trivia, so read on, let us know if you enjoyed it! Who knows, maybe this article will inspire you to get a new floral tattoo or offer your loved ones a bouquet after this!
Flowers in the victorian era
Under the reign of Queen Victoria, flower bouquets were commonly exchanged between young couples, or offered by suitors to their potential lovers when courting them. In some cases, flowers could also be a symbol of homoerotic feelings, and a way for lovers to express their feelings without risking being exposed. Now, one might think that the symbols attached to flowers were mostly joyful feelings of love and acceptance, but there is so much more to the silent language of flowers than that!
In fact, the way the flowers were presented and/or gifted to the person played a significant role in conveying the intended message. A flower or bouquet offered with the right hand usually meant “yes,” while the left hand was used to say “no.” Other sources even mention the direction of the ribbon! A ribbon tied to the right meant that the message or feeling expressed by the flowers was in reference to the recipient; and a ribbon tied to the left meant the opposite. Even better, a flower held upside down was understood to symbolize the opposite of what is traditionally meant!
FLOWERS AND THEIR SYMBOLS
Of course, how can we talk about romance without talking about red roses, the universal symbol for love?! However, very few people know the slight nuances that exists between the shades of red roses and the different kinds of love they symbolize. A bright red rose for example, is a symbol of romance, while a deeper, darker shade represents love that hasn’t been realized yet.
Red carnations are the ones commonly associated with love. Lighter shades of red are a symbol of admiration, and darker ones are used to convey stronger, more powerful feelings of affection towards someone. Pink carnations on the other hand are often gifted as a sign of gratitude, and white carnations represent luck and purity. You might want to avoid yellow carnations, though, as those symbolize disdain!
Tulips are a close second after red roses when it comes to conveying feelings of love and affection. They come in different colors, each with their own significance, the red ones, being a symbol of perfect love! Isn’t that lovely?
Symbols of devotion and support, these flowers are the perfect gift for a friend who has stood by you through thick and thin!
Also a symbol of joy and happiness, sunflowers are a reminder of the warm, sunny days you shared with your friends and can be gifted as a reminder of those memories!
A beautiful, ruffled flower that symbolizes honor and respect for the friends that are no longer with you. Keeping zinnias around your house can be a way for your friendship to live on.
Daisies have so many meanings, but most of them agree on joy, innocence and childhood. These simple flowers are a great symbol of sweetness and family!
This flower symbolizes unity, togetherness, and all the affection you bear towards your children and significant other!
Gardenias represent the purity, innocence, and sweetness of children. They also carry other meanings such as hope, trust, clarity, and enlightenment!
A bouquet of daffodils is a symbol of rebirth, new beginnings and hope for the future!
These beautiful flowers represent optimism and longevity.
The meaning commonly associated with these flowers is playfulness.
According to Geek Myth, Apollo and Zephyr fought for the love of a beautiful boy named Hyakinthos, who ended up being killed in the process. From his blood sprung the flower that we today call purple hyacinth. This etiological myth has since then been used as the reason behind the flower’s meaning of sorrow and regret.
This is perhaps the most popular symbol of consolation that decorates our houses and adorns our clothes on Remembrance Day.
There are so many other flowers with a multitude of meanings all around the world. I attempted to compile some of them here for your entertainment. I hope this article has been fun to read, and don’t forget to water your flowers!