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? Grab a bouquet of their favorite flowers! Want to comfort your loved one but don’t know how? Flowers will do the trick!
Giving flowers as a gift has been consistent through diverse 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 vital in the Victorian Era. We see how almost everybody knew exactly the meanings and messages flowers held.
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 encourage you to look at 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 earliest dates of giving flowers go back to the time of Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and the Roman Empire.
These three societies often used flowers in religious traditions. They based their personal use of flowers on their beliefs.
The Greeks used them as props for plays. They also made them into decoration for ceremonies. Later, they began exchanging flowers to show love towards each other.
Societies throughout history have kept the tradition of gifting flowers. During the Middle Ages, people from Turkey created the first list of meanings for flowers.
This later extended throughout the world. Other cultures matched these to their traditions 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 convey deep, unsaid feelings towards each other?
Back then, people were getting more into gardening and flower care. They sought to grow healthy, lively flowers. They also cultivated new flower varieties.
The flowers, in turn, served as a form of communication. It carried messages between lovers, friends, families, and even acquaintances.
Flowers showed sentiments ranging from “I love you”, to “I adore you, my friend”, to “I’m sorry”. They played a vital role in how Victorian-era citizens made their feelings known.
See, Victorian people thought that stating how you feel was tasteless. So they adapted the list of flower meanings back in the Middle Ages. Then, they applied these into how they interacted with each other.
This even included romances! Courting was usually done through exchanges of flowers.
Some groups even came up with 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 hold an entire conversation without saying a word.
The custom of flower giving became very popular. Soon enough, people started using bouquets to send certain messages to people. Even the way that the person presented the floral gift became part of their message. This tradition carried on (of course with less melodramatic quality) through history.
Photo by Ina Soulis