History of the Tradition of Flower Giving
Have an anniversary coming up? Give them flowers! Don’t have a gift for your friend’s birthday? Get a bouquet of their favorite blooms! Want to comfort your loved one but don’t know how? Flowers will do the trick!
Giving blooms as a gift has been consistent through different periods and cultures. But when exactly did it begin?
In this article, we talk about the history of the practice of flower giving. We’ll see how it developed through history and spread around the world.
Finally, we discover why this tradition was so crucial in the Victorian Era. We find out how almost everyone knew exactly the meanings and messages flowers kept.
For a crash course on the language of flowers, go to our next article!
Interested in a formal course? Want to get certified as an expert on all things floral? We urge you to check out organizations that offer programs in floristry, such as:
American Institute of Floral Designers (www.aifd.org).
Society of American Florists (www.safnow.org).
American Floral Endowment (www.endowment.org).
Flowers and Gift-Giving Traditions.
The origins of gifting flowers go back to the time of Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and the Roman Empire.
These three societies often used flowers in religious practices. They based their own personal use of flowers on their beliefs.
The Greeks used them as props for storytelling. They also made them into a decoration for ceremonies. Later on, they began exchanging flowers to show devotion towards one another.
Societies all through history have kept the tradition of gifting flowers. During the Middle Ages, people from Turkey produced the first list of meanings for flowers.
This later extended throughout the world. Other cultures matched these to their customs and beliefs.
The Victorian Era and Flowers.
People from the Victorian Era are often known for being at the height of elegance.
But did you know they used flowers to reveal deep, unspoken feelings towards one another?
Back then, people were getting more into gardening and flower care. They sought to grow robust, beautiful flowers. They also cultivated new flower varieties.
The flowers, in turn, acted as a form of communication. It relayed messages between lovers, friends, relatives, and even acquaintances.
Flowers showed sentiments ranging from “I love you”, to “I adore you, dear friend”, to “I’m sorry”. They played a vital role in how Victorian-era citizens made their emotions known.
See, Victorian people thought that stating how you feel was tacky. So they adapted the list of flower meanings back in the Middle Ages. Then, they confirmed these into how they engaged with each other.
This even encompassed romances! Courting was usually carried out through exchanges of flowers.
Some groups even produced alternative meanings to flowers. They did this to communicate in secret, hidden from prying eyes.
Not long after, most people knew what every flower and floral arrangement meant. They could sustain an entire conversation without saying a single word.
The custom of flower giving became rather popular. Soon enough, people started using bouquets to send specific messages to people. Even the way that the person presented the floral gift was part of their message. This tradition carried on (of course with less melodramatic quality) through history.
Photo by Alex Seinet