Floral Symbolism – Historical Introduction
Floral symbolism became very popular in England during the Victorian period. It was a way to assign meaning to an object that was both secretive and creative. Indeed, an entire language of floral symbolism sprung up. This language was adopted from a Turkish one, and became known colloquially as sending a “Persian Selam.”
This was greatly useful in the Victorian era given the great importance and emphasis that was placed on politeness, respectability and good manners. It was considered in poor taste to openly express romantic interests or to make displays of love and courtship. The Persian Selam was used so that meanings could be sent covertly without causing any sort of display.
The Victorians became extremely skilled at interpreting floral symbolism, and a great many rules sprung up about it. Each breed and color had its own specific meaning, and had to be used in the proper contest lest you make a social faux-pas that would be tremendously embarrassing. Even rules about which hand you presented a bouquet with were born, with the left hand being reserved for denial and the right for acceptance or saying yes.
Although floral symbolism to this degree is no longer common in the Western world, we still apply meaning to many colors and species. It can be fun to start up your own “Persian Selam” game with friends and family, and can add an entirely new element to giving flowers as gifts.
Floral Symbolism – Meanings of Common Flowers
We’ve assembled some information to help you learn the floral symbolism behind more popular species. You can use this information to create some personalized gift arrangements to impress your friends:
· Bluebell – The bluebell traditionally meant constancy and everlasting love. Interestingly, it was believed to call the fairies when rung, and it was thought to be unlucky to walk through a mass of bluebells due to a belief that it would be full of spells.
· Buttercup – Buttercups, in the world of floral symbolism, represented childishness. It was once rumored that the color of butter was a result of cows eating buttercups, but they actually avoid them due to an acrid taste.
· Carnation – Floral symbolism was that the carnation represented love and betrothal. Believed to be an aphrodisiac, this flower became popular at weddings
· Daisy – Daisies represent innocence and modesty. It was once believed that you could predict how many years it would be until you were married by picking a bunch and counting how many you had. The “loves me, loves me not” game was also very popular amongst young girls.
· Iris – In floral symbolism, the iris means good news or an awaiting message. The flowers and leaves used to be strewn in front of the bride and groom at weddings, and it was believed that if you were foolish enough to bite the iris root you would suffer from a stammer for the rest of your days.
· Lily – The floral symbolism behind the lily has it represent innocence and purity. The lily was dedicated to the Greek goddess Hera, the wife of Zeus. The lily was supposedly formed from drops of Hera’s spilt breast milk.
· Pansy – Pansies represent attraction and loving thoughts. Also known also as heartsease, this beautiful flower was believed to heal love problems. Anyone wanting to ensure they were loved by their sweethearts would carry a pansy about their person.
· Poppy – Poppies in floral symbolism represent remembrance. They grow swiftly in disturbed regions in Europe. After battles in the Napoleonic wars and World War One tore up the countryside, poppies were quick to grow. They were thus associated with the fallen soldiers.
· Violet – Faithfulness and modesty were the meanings of violets. In the middle ages they were used as an air freshener thanks to their sweet smell, and were scattered about on the floor. They were also believed to ward off evil spirits and found additional use in medicinal poultices for healing plasters.
Floral Symbolism – Conclusion
These are just some of the popular flowers used in floral symbolism during the Victorian eras. To find more information about floral symbolism and flowers in general, head on over to your local florist’s shop. They’ll have a wealth of knowledge about the meanings of flowers and their appropriate usage as gifts. It’s also a great place to buy fresh flowers or a flowering plant for use as a gift.
Searching online is also an excellent idea, as you can usually find references to older texts and large databases of facts about floral symbolism. A florist’s website might be a good place to start. If you have no luck online, or prefer a more hands-on approach, your local library may carry a book or two on the subject.
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