The History of Giving Flowers

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A single flower or  a huge bouquet may express love, remembrance, apology, support or simply be a  thoughtful gesture. Throughout human history, flowers have played a significant  role as gestures and gifts. Though specific meanings and traditions may change,  flowers remain a part of human connection.

Floriography, or the language of flowers, extends back hundreds of years in  history as a way for people to communicate.  Ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Chinese all refer to the use of flowers in  their stories and myths. The Greeks considered flowers to be of particularly  high importance and associated them with the gods. Evidence exists that giving flowers has been a significant part of culture  since the Middle Ages. In the mid-1700s, the significance increased when the  French and English, while visiting Turkey, discovered an entire language of  flowers which gave meaning to different flower types.
From this, the Victorian  culture created a meaning for every characteristic of a  flower.Victorians, living in an era when people did not believe in expressing  emotion, found the language of flowers to be an acceptable form of expression.  In typical fashion of the Victorian era, great effort and detail went into  giving meaning to everything about the flower. Its color, size, condition, any  accompanying flower and even flowers’ position in relation to other flowers all  conveyed meaning without saying a word. For example, a flower presented to  someone upside down meant the opposite of its supposed original meaning. The way  in which the flowers were presented or received–and which hand was used–also  held meaning.
Books and guides created during the Victorian period served as a decoder for  those receiving and giving flowers. What you might today say in a text  message  or email could be sent without a single word, provided you knew the meaning of  the flowers and their characteristics. The flower language books, however, were  not all written by the same author or in the same time period, so it could have  been that the giver and receiver each had a different interpretation of the  gesture.The history of flower giving continues to be written. In the United States it  might have once seemed inappropriate for a woman to give flowers to a man. Today  it no longer registers as out of the ordinary. Virtual flowers and Internet  florists provide new ways to deliver virtual or real flowers anywhere  in the world. Technological and scientific advances allow for year-round blooms  of every type of flower. Though most people no longer know the old-fashioned  meaning of many flowers, they still use flowers to convey sentiments to  others.

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