Flowers have played an integral part throughout history. They have been depicted in various religions and sources of mythology and folklore in many cultures. Some served as food while others possessed healing properties and were used as medicine. Flowers held symbolic meanings and beliefs within various cultures, and they were also considered to be decorative. In fact, some ancient civilizations believed that they could appease the spirits by decorating tombs with certain flowers.
The symbolism behind certain flowers often pointed towards one’s intentions. People could pass on messages to each other without having to say a word. Depending on the specific plant, they could express messages of love or dislike. This is still practiced today; in fact, flowers are often sent to others as an expression of love, grief, honor, and health. Do you know what you are saying when you give flowers or plants to others or what they are saying to you?
The rose has long since been a symbol of love and desire. During the Renaissance, this flower was often associated with the beauty of Venus and scratches by rose thorns were associated with the wounds of love. In Christian symbolism, the red rose represents the blood of a martyr as well as love. The white rose is a symbol of purity, charm, and innocence. Pink roses often signify happiness.
The lily is a symbol of chastity and virtue and often depicted within religion. Lilies are also a symbol of death in some cultures, while in others, they are thought to have healing properties and are used as treatment for fever, an ointment for wounds, and pain reliever for arthritis.
Ancient people believed that the odor from the burnt leaves of asters drove away serpents. Asters were also once laid upon the graves of French soldiers to symbolize the wish that things had turned out differently. Generally, asters have the symbolic meaning of a lucky charm.
Calendula has often been associated with religion and healing. Calendula blossoms were once used in wine to soothe indigestion. The petals were also utilized in ointments for skin irritations, jaundice, sore eyes, and toothaches. This was considered the most sacred flower of ancient India due to its healing properties; however, in other cultures, this flower represents jealousy.
Chrysanthemums were considered noble plants by the Chinese. The chrysanthemum is a symbol of the sun in many cultures; however, in Italy these flowers are associated with death. Normally, if you are given a red chrysanthemum, it means ‘I Love You’ and a white chrysanthemum represents truth.
Daisies are symbolic of innocence and gentleness. One Celtic legend states that the spirits of children who died in childbirth scattered daisies on the earth to cheer their sorrowing parents.
Did you know that the bulbs of tulips were once traded like stock? People actually paid for these with parcels of land or other property. In Greece, women once thought that if the father of their unborn child ate large tubers, she would have a boy while ingesting small ones produced a girl. Red tulips usually signify to the recipient that he or she is the perfect lover.
Sunflowers represent longevity or pride; baby’s breath, which is most often accompanied by roses, symbolizes a pure heart and sincerity. Carnations hold various meanings. A pink carnation means someone is unforgettable, a red one depicts admiration, and a white carnation signifies a pure and ardent love. Want forgiveness? Send some hyacinths. Is it your first love? Try a lilac. Do you wish to instill hope or faith? An iris meets this regard. Thinking of others who are missed? Consider sending them some sweet peas or zinnias.
Flowers have been around for centuries and perpetuate significant meaning to others. Next time you send or receive flowers, especially those from other cultures, consider what message is being conveyed. A particular flower may mean one thing to you and something quite different to someone else.