I’m more of a box of chocolates kind of girl, but even I’m not immune to the charms of a fresh and fragrant bouquet on Valentine’s Day. There really is something to be said about how colorful flowers can brighten up one’s mood.
Still, have you ever wondered why we give flowers at all? And with so many of them sprouting forth from God’s green earth, how do we know which ones would be the most effective for our intentions?
The History Behind the Practice of Giving Flowers
Apparently, using various blooms to communicate has been around for hundreds of years. Charles II of Sweden is said to have introduced the custom of sending floral bouquets to pass on non-verbal messages. It caught on among the aristocracy, and at one point, it was even possible to have entire conversations using flowers because each one was assigned a specific meaning.
About a century later, the Victorians escalated things by devising a system called “floriography.” As with the Swedish king, this involved using flowers to convey certain messages, except this time, the main objective was to inform your intended love interest that you were, well, interested.
Why Roses on Valentine’s Day?
Speaking of floriography, roses were particularly popular among the Victorians because they came in different colors that could signify all kinds of love. The traditional blood-red hue supposedly evoked passion, romance, and true love. Pink roses were thought to represent feminine grace and appreciation, while white roses were given to people that you highly respected or esteemed.
Yellow roses, on the other hand, stood for friendship and well wishes for the recipient’s happiness (proving yet again that even friendzoned singletons can enjoy the holiday).
From there, red roses simply caught on as a universal symbol of romantic love, thereafter ensuring a hefty payday for florists the world over whenever the 14th of February rolls around.
Are There Other Flowers You Can Choose? Which Ones Should You Avoid?
If you find roses a bit much or if you’re unsure about the receiving party’s feelings, there are a couple of other flowers that can convey a subtler message.
Moonflowers, for instance, evoke dreams of a love that is yet to come to fruition, while the fragrant white gardenia speaks of a secret, untold attraction. *cue theatrical gasp*
Whatever you do, steer clear of white and yellow tulips, morning glory, and narcissus flowers. They represent doomed love, love in vain, and unrequited love, respectively. Yikes.
Lastly, orchids and lilies are both quite pretty, but floral etiquette dictates that they’re more appropriate for wakes and funerals. Either that, or if you want to send your significant other a bouquet to signify the death of your relationship.
If there’s anything we can learn from all of this, it’s that the things we leave unsaid can be more profound than what actually comes out of our mouths. In this day and age, it’s all too easy to say all sorts of sweet nothings over SMS or through virtual chats, but the true test of someone’s intentions is how they behave towards you in real life.
Taking time to pick out the perfect flower for the people we love is but one of the many ways in which we can prove our sincerity, don’t you think?