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We have always gave flowers as gifts, but what do they really mean to us? Find out more!
“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.”
Luther Burbank, American Botanist.
Flowers as Gifts
In our lives, we will find many occasions in our lives where we have the joyful opportunity to give someone a gift. From birthdays to simple celebratory occasions, the giving of gifts serves as a way for us to express our feelings in a meaningful way. In today’s culture, flowers are still one of the most popular gifts, suitable for every occasion. However, have we ever stopped to think of where this practice came from?
Flowers: An Age Old Tradition
The tradition of giving flowers as gifts goes back a long way in human history. Dating back to Egyptian hieroglyphics, ancient Chinese writings as well as in Roman and Greek mythology, flowers were documented to have been as a way of expressing our feelings. Flowers were given on celebratory occasions, and also used to mourn the dead. The Ancient Greeks used flowers as a show of dedication to their gods, and acknowledged the great deeds of their warriors through the crowning of wreaths made of blossoms and leaves.
Flowers as a Social Gesture
However, it was only in the Georgian and Victorian Era in England (Around 1700s-1800s) that the giving of flowers first became a widespread, social phenomenon.
During this period, many flower dictionaries explaining the meaning of flowers and other plants were published, and the tradition of giving flowers spread throughout England, becoming a popular social gesture. Flowers were often used to relay messages of interest, affection and love, but were also used to convey negative messages depending on how they were given.
The interpretation of meanings in flowers was known as Floriography. Armed with these floral dictionaries, Victorians started exchanging flowers in the form of nosegays (small bouquets), otherwise known as tussie-mussies or “talking bouquets”.
It was common practice at the beginning of a courtship in the Victorian era for suitors to give their intended a nosegay. The types of flowers changed with the relationship, allowing suitors to express their heartfelt feelings without saying a word! In today’s society, we still give flowers to our loved ones, and even though we do not use flower dictionaries, we do adhere to some cultural understanding of the meanings of the flowers we give.
Flowers do indeed speak a special language. The bloom of a dandelion given by a small child holds as much sentimental value as a rose given by an admirer. The combination of different flowers can mean different things depending on the colour, size, buds or full blooms and even the number of flowers.
So why are flowers so popular? Lets look at what some recent research into flowers came up with.
Flowers feed compassion.
Study participants who lived with fresh cut flowers for less than a week felt an increase in feelings of compassion and kindness for others
Flowers chase away anxieties, worries and the blues at home.
Overall, people in the study simply felt less negative after being around flowers at home for just a few days. Participants most frequently placed flowers in their kitchens, dining rooms and living rooms, where they spend a lot of time at home. They reported wanting to see the blooms first thing in the morning.
Living with flowers can provide a boost of energy, happiness and enthusiasm at work.
Having flowers at home can have a positive carry-over impact on our mood at work, too. The study found that people were more likely to feel happier and have more enthusiasm and energy at work when flowers were in their home living environments.
Flowers can put a smile on your faces, especially females!
Seeing flowers never failed to put a smile on the faces of the women tested in the study.
Drawn from: The Home Ecology of Flowers Study at Harvard: (http://aboutflowers.com/health-benefits-a-research/home-ecology-of-flowers-study.html) and the journal of Evolutionary Psychology (http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/ep03104132.pdf)
So now that you know about the history of flowers, perhaps the next time you present a bouquet of flowers to your loved ones, you will be much more appreciative of the hidden meanings and psychological effects your flowers have!
Thanks for reading!