Flowers and superstitions
Flowers caught our attention back in childhood. Everyone has read a book or may be even seen an animation film about the scarlet flower. The merchant's youngest daughter asked her father to find the most beautiful flower in the whole wide world. After a long journey the merchant fulfilled his daughter's wish, but nearly lost his life and his most beloved daughter in exchange. It is not clear what kind of flower the “scarlet flower” was. We will leave that to our imagination. But the reason why the princess from the “The Twelve Months” story demanded snowdrops in the middle of winter has a logical explanation. Turns out that snowdrops contain galantamine, which improves activity of neurons, therefore, as has been recently declared by Chinese scientists, their presence in a room enhances brain activity.
All around the world, independent of a nation's culture, flowers attract people with their unspeakable beauty and intoxicating scents. From the days of old flowers are used to decorate homes and even hair. The Romans used flowers as medicine, to be more specific, they believed that flowers could tell the future. Flowers help to express the most intimate feelings and conquer a woman’s heart. In the middle ages a lover’s meeting place could be described by the language of flowers.
The roots of floral symbolism are found in the ancient religions. Many flowers are associated with the ancient deities. During the times of Renaissance people believed that nature is a reflection of God. In the middle ages, gardens were planted according to the spiritual meaning of flowers. The roots of the modern language of flowers are traced back to Turkey. They say that to escape boredom people used to guess the meaning of flowers. The flower language was particularly well developed during the reign of Victoria the Queen of England. That era was especially strict in respect of relationships between men and women. People were not allowed to freely express their thoughts and emotions. Flowers served as means for creation of a new language. They became a communication tool of lovers. Each flower or bouquet carried an secret message addressed to the recipient. By giving flowers, a man would reveal his feeling towards the beloved woman. In the 19th century, as flower symbolism became more complex, books were written about this unusual way of communication.
Even in the present time, every month has its own flower. Carnation is the flower of January, iris - of February. Daffodil is associated with the month of March, daisy - with April, and lily with May. June is the month of roses, while July is of geranium - a representative of the Ranunculaceae genus family, which is also called “dolphin”, a name originating from the Greek language due to the dolphin-shaped blossoms. Gladiolus symbolises the month of August, aster - September, marigold - October, and chrysanthemum - November. A Christmas flower is poinsettia, the flower of the month of December.
Many countries have a “national” flower. The history of some national flowers is rooted in the country’s culture or religion, and is hundreds or even thousands years old. The most popular national flowers are lilies, tulips and irises. Rose is a national flower of the USA, Great Britain and Maldives. The fact that edelweiss is a national flower of Australia is not a fiction used in a well-known film “The Sounds of Music”, but pure truth. Red poppy, an effortlessly cultivated wild flower, is a national flower of Belgium. Lily of the valley is a national flower of Finland, which due to its stunning strong scent, is often used during weddings. Bulbs of tulips, the national flowers of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, can replace regular onion in the kitchen. Lithuania’s national flower symbolising purity and innocence is rue (Ruta graveolens), which in the ancient Lithuania was worn by brides.
When talking about the meaning and symbolism of flowers, first thing to remember is that flowers often symbolise rebirth, renewal, youth and beauty. Flowers are given at birth, they are used to bring joy to people during birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, various festivities and celebrations, and they lead people into their last journey. Beauty and femininity of flowers started a tradition of naming girls after flowers. One of the most popular names in Lithuania is Rūta, named after the aforementioned rue flower (Ruta graveolens), which since the days of old has been the symbol of innocence. Another popular name is Ramunė (daisy). Less frequently girls are named Rožė (rose), Mėta (mint), Snieguolė (snowdrop) and Žibutė (liverleaf). Boys are sometimes names Narcizas (daffodil).
In different cultures there is a formed system of superstitions, meanings and symbols. Most popular ones in Lithuania: “an even number of flowers symbolises mourning”, “a red rose symbolises love”, “if a flower blooms only shortly, it means that a giver doesn't love you”, even though in this last case it is obvious that everything depends on maintenance. It is not recommended to give your beloved yellow flowers, because a folk superstition states that yellow flowers symbolise separation. It is common to give women only round bouquets of flowers, while long-stemmed bouquets and rigid shapes are more suitable for men. Sometimes you might even come across a prejudice that roses and orchids are the only real flowers - everything else is just extras. You can often see a “money tree” in people’s homes - a special potted flower, which is commonly given as a wish of prosperity. Some folk names of flowers include such names as “old bachelor” (begonia) or “tramp” (alligator plant).
Flower symbols depend on the variety and colour, therefore it is so easy to get lost in flower symbolism. When you choose flowers or a bouquet, the least you can do is know the colour alphabet. For example, white colour means purity, red - love and passion, pink colour could mean love, happiness or friendship. Yellow colour usually symbolises wisdom, while orange - creativity. Green colour symbolises growth, improvement, renewal and even fertility. Blue is a symbol of peace, serenity and health. Purple colour is a statement of devotion and spirituality.
However, independent of the colour, each flower has its own meaning. Some meanings are true of all countries in the world. For example, people give a red rose to someone they love. A white rose speaks of purity, yellow - of infidelity. Different colours of tulips also have their own meanings. For example, red tulips are a symbol of love, white - forgiveness, yellow - good wishes, and purple tulips symbolise grandeur. Therefore, if you don’t speak the language of flowers, it is best to consult a florist or ask a recipient. This tactics might help you avoid ending in such comic situations as this one: a guy came to visit his girlfriend and brought her two flowers. The girl became angry, because two flowers mean a mourning. The guy tries to justify himself saying: “I came to the store. I chose the most beautiful flower for you, but then I noticed that there were only two left. I thought to myself, if I take just one, what would they do the one left? Nobody will ever buy it. So I bought two...”