Saturday, February 26, 2011
Emotional connections people have made to flowers throughout history.
From Flowers to Valentines Flowers to giant sized California Mothers Day Flowers,The practise of giving flowers as gifts has a long established history. Offering floral gifts has come to be associated with a wide range of messages –they are traditionally given as tokens of love in romantic relationships, particularly as Valentines flowers, as Mothers Day flowers for Mothering Sunday, to friends and family when they are taken ill, as floral tributes to mark the passing of a loved one, and for many other reasons besides.
Nearly every country has some form of floral gifting in its culture, and not unlike most traditions, the beginning of floral gifts was quite different from what we see today.
In prehistoric times, different herbal and medicinal properties were often attributed to various types of flowers. As well as this, they had emotional implications too, even for our ancestors. Remnants of petals have been discovered in several grave sites by archaeologists, which suggests that offering floral tributes to the dead is a one of the oldest living traditions there is.
Several thousands of years after this, there is evidence of floral gifting seen in Chinese writings and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, as well as in Roman and Greek mythology, and by the Middle Ages, floral gifts provided lovers with a medium of showing affection towards one another in public when strict guidelines were in place which meant even holding hands could be reported to the church. Certain blooms had different meanings attached to them, meaning that couples could exchange romantic messages in coding.
In a sense then, these were the first examples of anything similar to the Valentines flowers given today.
It is not well known how Valentines flowers came to be associated with St. Valentines day, however there is much romantic mythology surrounding the bloom which is predominantly associated with it; the red rose. One myth from Greek and Roman mythology stems from the myth of Aphrodite and Adonis, respectively the goddess of beauty and the god of love. When Adonis was slain, Aphrodite rushed to her lover, scratching herself on a rosebush and turning it red.
The gifting of Mothers Day flowers stemmed from the founder of Mothering Sunday, Anna Jarvis, who made carnations the first type of bloom to be offered to mothers, as these were her own mother’s favourites. Jarvis organised the first Mother’s Work Days in 1858 to aid the improvement of community standards. This was also an integral part in the early stages of feminist activism, and in 1872, Julia Ward Howe devoted a special day for mothers which centred on the central themes of happiness and peace.
Since then, both Mothers Day flowers and blooms offered on Valentines Day have become widely commercialised, but it is interesting to see nonetheless the emotional connections people have made to flowers throughout history.