Friday, April 10, 2009

~The Symbolic Meaning of Flowers
By Darlene Zagata
People throughout various cultures and lands have been drawn to the beauty and fragrance of flowers. From ancient times until today, flowers have been used for adornment and to express intimate feelings. Flowers speak in ways that touch the human heart. In fact, flowers have a language of their own.


Flowers have been of special interest even in ancient times. They were thought to have healing properties and could affect the emotions. Certain flowers, such as the lotus, were considered sacred. The violet was the sacred flower of the Greek god, Ares. Flowers featured prominently in myth and legend. It is believed that the Greeks were the first to develop the language of flowers, assigning special meanings to the various flowers. Flowers were even associated with certain people and events in Biblical times. The lily, which represents chastity, is associated with the virgin Mary, as is the rose.


Flowers are often associated with spring and rebirth. They represent renewal, youth and beauty. Flowers are also symbolic of the eternal cycle of life and death. Flowers are associated with numerous occasions and events. Flowers are given on birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. They are used to celebrate joyous occasions such as weddings and also to express sympathy during sad events such as funerals. The use of flowers in events such as these signify the symbolism of flowers in the cycle of life and death.


The symbolism of flowers is often determined both by color and type. When sending flowers based on symbolism, it is often easiest to choose them by color, since the list of symbolic meanings for each different type of flower can be somewhat lengthy. Generally, white is symbolic of purity and innocence. Red represents passion and love. Pink also symbolizes love as well as happiness, beauty and friendship. Yellow is associated with purity, truth and intellect whereas orange is symbolic of warmth, creativity and growth. Green also represents growth as well as hope, renewal and fertility. Blue is a symbol of peace, tranquility and healing while purple represents devotion, faith, nobility and spirituality.


Certain flowers, such as roses, are well known for their symbolic meaning. People often give roses to express feelings of love. Flowers that have well known symbolism are often used in gift giving, get well wishes and a variety of other situations. These flowers include roses, carnations, daisies, forget-me-nots, tulips, lilacs, lillies, marigolds, orchids, zinnias and sunflowers among others. The red rose is best known for representing love, while the other colors have various symbolic meanings. Like roses, the symbolism of tulips and carnations are most often determined by their color.


Here is a listing of the most common symbolism associated with the most commonly used flowers:

Blue violet symbolizes faithfulness
Daisy symbolizes beauty and innocence
Apple blossom symbolizes hope and good fortune
Bluebell symbolizes constancy
Ivy symbolizes eternal fidelity
Mimosa symbolizes secret love
Magnolia symbolizes perseverance
Lily symbolizes majesty
Lily of the Valley symbolizes the return of happiness
Cala Lily symbolizes splendid beauty
Bellflower symbolizes gratitude
Forget-Me-Not symbolizes true love and remembrance
Marigold symbolizes affection
Orange blossom symbolizes marriage
Myrtle symbolizes love and remembrance
Baby's Breath symbolizes innocence and a pure heart
Gardenia symbolizes loveliness and untold love
Holly symbolizes domestic happiness
Orchid symbolized beauty
Sunflower symbolizes pure love
Zinnia symbolizes affection and remembrance
Iris symbolizes hope, faith, wisdom and friendship
Lilac symbolizes love particularly first love
White lilac symbolizes youthful innocence
Orchid symbolizes rare beauty
Honeysuckle symbolizes happiness
Peony symbolizes happy marriage and compassion


Here are some meanings for certain flowers based on color:

Red rose is a symbol of love and passion
White rose is a symbol of purity and innocence
Pink rose is a symbol of love and happiness
Yellow rose is a symbol of infidelity
Red tulip is a symbol of perfect love
White tulip is a symbol of forgiveness
Yellow tulip is a symbol of cheerful thoughts
Purple tulip is a symbol of royalty
Red carnation symbolizes deep love and affection
White carnation symbolizes pure love and good fortune
Pink carnation symbolizes a mother's undying love
Pink hyacinth symbolizes playfulness
Purple hyacinth symbolizes sorrow
Red hyacinth symbolizes love and happiness
White hyacinth symbolizes loveliness and sorrow
Yellow hyacinth symbolizes jealousy


People often choose flowers based on their appearance, while remaining oblivious to their symbolic meaning. While it is perfectly fine to pick flowers on their visual appeal and/or fragrant aroma it can be helpful to become familiar with their symbolic meaning so that the language of flowers can be considered when choosing particular flowers. Knowing the symbolic meaning of a loved one's favorite flower can make it even more special for both of you.