Like everything, flowers have a history and a story. A rich, colorful and fun one, well some were sad but we had fun learning about them. And as a florist we thought we should know the background of the flowers we work with, don’t you think? And we hope you enjoy them.
We get some customer that will call us and ask that we don’t use carnations in their arrangements. But did you know that the ancient Greeks used carnations in their ceremonial crowns and that the name is said to derive from the word incarnacyon (incarnation), meaning they were the incarnation of a god. That puts carnation on a different level doesn’t it? Chrysanthemums are another flower that some people consider “lowly and cheap”, we think they are beautiful (just the way a mother loves all her children equally) and we were tickled to learn that Japanese emperors sat on chrysanthemum thrones. AND they dropped the petals on the bottom of wine glasses because they believed they aided in sustaining a long and healthy life. The disdain for daisies rivals that of mums to some people but to the ancient Egyptians and people of Crete, daisies were a symbol of beauty as they decorated their hair and ceramics with them. And in the 60 and 70s flower power era and more recently in the world of Coachella, daisies have raised in status as the symbol of freedom, free spirit and peace. And of course they were used to decorate the hairs of many.
Lilies have a loooooong history too. The Greeks used them to make a crown for brides as a symbol of purity. Even in Christianity in both the Old and New Testament, lilies were a symbol of chastity and virtue. Which explains why many brides think of lilies today for their wedding. Looks like their long history followed them to the present. And you may think that scattering rose petals to create a romantic ambiance was a modern tradition. You’d be wrong if you did because Cleopatra (of the ancient Egypt) used to scatter rose petals before Mark Anthony’s (of the ancient romans) feet. Pretty cool right?
Did you know that poinsettias became the traditional plant for the Christmas season because Mexican legends say that they resemble the flower of bethlehem and churches were decorated with the plant. And they got their name from the US Ambassador to mexico Dr Joel Roberts-Poinsett in the late 20s. The origin of sunflowers is said to be in Central and South America and are reported to have been worshiped by the natives of the Inca Empire in Peru. Actually the priestesses wore large disks made of gold that resembled sunflowers.
Our favorite story, however, is that of tulips, many economists would agree. Their history starts in the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), then in the 16th century they were imported into Holland. Tulips became soooo popular that the bulbs were stolen from gardens and as you can imagine that was a problem especially when the “dutch Golden Age” took off as did the cultivation of tulips because their popularity increased. In the mid 17th century came Tulip Mania, the first economic bubble happened where more and more people bought tulips bulbs. As supply/demand dictates their price went up to the point that they actually became so expensive they were used as money. As we all know from history of what happened when the market is inflated, the market crashed as it’s known to do when the growth is not sustainable. But the tulip remained Holland’s or the Netherland’s national flower. Although they are not a long lasting flowers we think they are just so beautiful especially because there are so many varieties of them.
Another sweet story behind a flower is the one behind violets. We all know about the love Napoleon had for Josephine so this little story is so sweet it might give you cavities. So here is the shortened version of the story: Josephine wore violets on the day of their wedding and every anniversary he sent her a bouquet of violets. In 1814 when he was exiled to the Island of St Helena he asked to visit his beloved Josephine’s tomb first. And when he died it was discovered that he had violets that he picked from her grave in a locket that he wore around his neck. Sweet right? Just don’t think about what Napoleon did and think of only this story.
There are many more stories about many other flowers but we thought these were the loveliest ones. So remember that next time you send a bouquet of flowers that each flower has a history and a story.