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The History of Giving Flowers across the Globe

The world around us is full of wonder and beauty, but few things are as universally captivating as flowers. They stimulate our senses in ways nothing else can—from their colors and scents to their textures and even flavors. With over 400,000 species of flowering plants, it's hardly surprising that humans have been studying, collecting, and gifting flowers for centuries.

man woman flowers

Flowers have a unique way of conveying emotions when words won't suffice. While specific floral messages may vary across cultures, their power to connect us to each other and to nature transcends borders. The tradition of giving flowers carried on to the Middle Ages, especially among the English and the French. It is believed that the tradition of giving meaning to each type of flower was started in Europe after it was witnessed being done in Turkey. Let's see the history of giving flowers around the world.


The Ancient Greeks

They regarded flowers as divine symbols and used them in their mythology to represent gods and goddesses. However, even the greatest philosophers of that era recognized the transience of life, as they saw every flower blooming and wilting away. This reminds us that life is short and precious, and that we must cherish every moment we have. Let the beauty and fleeting nature of flowers inspire us to live our lives to the fullest, and make every moment count.


Egypt

Egyptian drawing of woman giving a floral gift

Flowers were considered sacred here and often placed in the tombs of the pharaohs to ward off evil spirits. The 11-day "Beautiful Festival of Opet" was another occasion for intricate floral arrangements, with towering displays of blue lotus, rose, poppy, and lily garlands carried on ceremonial altars.


Japan

japanese and flowers

Japan's artistic and cultural tradition of floral shrines, known as kado or "way of the flowers," has been a way of life since the 7th century. In modern times, kado has become a widely-practiced art form that not only serves as a thoughtful housewarming gift but also raises the spirits of the sick. The Japanese tradition of gifting regional flowers in kado arrangements, called "omiyage," is a beautiful way to celebrate even the simplest of life's moments.


France

The tradition of gifting lilies of the valley on May 1st dates back to the 16th century in France, when King Charles IX received a single flower and declared it a sign of good luck. Today, flower vendors traverse the streets selling lilies to all classes of people, tax-free, in hopes of bringing prosperity to the forthcoming season.


Victorian-era England

Victorian women shopping for flowers

As emotional restraint was highly valued here, flowers became a way of expressing feelings that were hard to articulate. Floriography, or the language of flowers, evolved into a means of conveying messages through specific species, colors, and arrangements. Despite the differences in cultures and traditions, one thing remains constant: flowers have a timeless ability to stir the senses, evoke emotion, and connect us to the world around us. As you admire the next bouquet or arrangement, take a moment to appreciate the silent power of these natural wonders.


China

chinese and flowers

In China, flowers like orchids, plum blossoms, bamboo, and chrysanthemums are considered "The Four Gentlemen" and are used to represent the characteristics of uprightness, purity, humility, and perseverance. The Chinese tradition also believes that gifting specific flowers like peonies or dahlias to elders can foster good fortune and send bamboo to friends for financial success.


Spain

Spain takes flower gifting very seriously and considers it an act of great significance. Potted plants are gifted after dinner parties, but never chrysanthemums, red roses, dahlias, or white lilies, as these flowers suggest death. Spanish bluebells and lilies are the safest bets, and remember to count your stems as flowers should be given only in odd numbers (except for the unlucky 13).


Australia

The Australian culture also holds flowers in high regard and fathers have been receiving flowers on their special day since the continent's early Aboriginal era. They were seen as a gentle gift of gratitude from children whose innocence a father sought to protect. The appreciation of flowers in Australia is displayed in full during the annual Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.


German

Flowers are not just about the type of flower, but also the number of flowers gifted in German. They insist on a greater level of generosity: Simply being invited to a home merits both a bottle of wine for the host and flowers for his or her partner. Tea roses and yellow roses are favorites, which should be unwrapped from any bouquet housing before being handed to a recipient.


Flowers have the power to convey emotions and bring people together. They serve as a reminder to appreciate the beauty of life and the people around us. Let's not forget to express our love and gratitude through the simple yet powerful act of gifting flowers.


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