10 February 2014

The Language of Flowers

                The language of flowers, known as “Floriography,” a term coined in the Victorian era, is an age old art form.  King Charles II brought it to Sweden from Persia in the 17th century.  The Japanese call it “Hanakotoba.”  So what is floriography?  Quite simply, it is the association of certain flowers with specific meanings.  Flowers are infused with symbolism through their rich mythology and distinctive characteristics.  Let’s look at some flowers that may be familiar to you.
                Alstroemerias resemble miniature lilies and are often called Peruvian Lily or Lily of the Incas.  This well known flower is found in a beautiful range of colors and is popular as a cut flower in bouquets.  The alstroemeria symbolizes friendship and devotion because the leaves grow upside down and twist as they grow out from the stem, so that the bottom is facing upwards, much like the growth of our friendships.
                Asters are enchanted flowers.  In ancient times, the perfume from their burning leaves was thought to drive away evil serpents.  Today, they are a symbol of love and patience.  The name “Aster” is derived from the Greek word for “star.”  They too are found in numerous colors.  They are the birth flower of September and also are honored as being the 20th wedding anniversary flower. 
                Blue flowers, such as iris, hydrangea, anemone or delphinium, hold a special significance in floriography.  Blue is a “cool” color and offers us peace and calmness in our hectic lives.  Blue holds universal appeal and plays a significant role in many religious rituals and ceremonies.  The Western tradition of a bride wearing something blue is tied to the color’s symbolism of faith and loyalty.  Darker tones can express trustworthiness, intelligence and unity.  In softer shades, it can be uplifting, like the sunny sky or soothing ocean. 
                The history of the peony dates back thousands of years.  It is said that the peony was named after Paeon, the physician of the gods, who received the flower on Mt. Olympus from the mother of Apollo.  Another legend has it that Paeon was saved from dying as mortals do by being turned into the peony flower we know today.  Peonies are the traditional symbol of China, the twelfth wedding anniversary flower, and the state flower of Indiana.  They are known for their rounded, lush blooms and signify romance and prosperity as well as good fortune and a happy marriage.
                There are so many more flowers I could write about, but I will end here with the rose.  Roses have long been a symbol of love and passion.  They have been used to convey messages without words and also represent confidentiality.  The ancient Greeks and Romans associated them with Aphrodite and Venus, the goddesses of love.  The Latin expression “sub rosa” (“under the rose”) means something told in secret.  In ancient Rome, a rose was placed on the door to a room where confidential matters were being discussed. 
                Each color of the rose represents a distinct meaning: red signifies enduring passion; white for humility and innocence; yellow for friendship and joy; pink for gratitude and admiration; orange for enthusiasm and desire; white lilac and purple for love at first sight and enchantment. 
June, the month most often recognized for weddings, is National Rose Month.  Roses are the fifteenth wedding anniversary flower and also the national flower of the U.S. and the state flower of New York, Georgia, District of Columbia, North Dakota and Iowa.
           Okay guys. now that you know the language of flowers and what all the different colors of roses signify…uh, Valentine’s Day is coming….go buy your favorite girl a beautiful bouquet.  Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!

Related: MsToodyGooShoes Valentine Recipes

1 comment:

  1. This was a great post, Nancy! I didn't know that the Aster was my "birth month" flower...and now I know why I love hydrangeas so much -- I'm drawn to their peace and calmness (I'll take "calm" any way I can get it!)

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