February 9, 2010

The Language of Flowers

Civil War Reenacting Language of Flowers
St. Valentines Day is creeping up on us which means flowers, flowers and more flowers.  During the 1800s, a time of symbolism and poetry, there were set symbolic meanings behind gifts of flowers. While certain meanings varried from place to place, many manuals existed to help people choose their flowers carefully so as to not give false intentions. So, to prevent all of the gentleman from saying "You are a sickly, ill-natured beauty with a changeable disposition" to their sweethearts, here is a short little guide for the common flowers of today.( A helpful hint: deep-red roses symbolize "Bashful Shame.") 

Common-modern-day flower meanings and etching excerpted from: The Illustrated Language of Flowers by Anna Christian Burke (1856):

Daffodils: Regard  
Roses: Love
Deep-Red Roses: Bashful Shame
Burgundy Roses: Beauty, Unconscious 
White Roses: "I am worthy of you."
Yellow Roses: Decrease of Love/ Jealousy
One Single Rose: Simplicity
Thornless Roses: Early Attachment
Red and White Roses, together: Unity
White Lilies: Youthful Innocence 
Imperial Lilies/ Oriental Lilies: Majesty 
Red Tulips: Declaration of Love
Yellow Tulips: Hopeless Love
Variegated Tulips (Tulips with more than one color on each petal): Beautiful Eyes
Fern (commonly "leatherleaf" today): Fascination

May everyone enjoy the holiday. I hope the flowers bring joy and color to this bleak snowy February. I do not personally like the commercial nature that has evolved, although I do admit the world needs more love. I strongly urge :D everyone to make their own Valentine's Day cards. Handmade cards are the best and they can mean so much more than a card picked out from the store. In past times valentines were given anonymously. It would be very fun and romantic to bring back that tradition! 

Some thoughts on Valentine's Day from 1864 can be read in The Book of Days. It is interesting to read about.   


  1. As usual a beautiful post! I love 'A garden can sing inside the heart eternally'...flowers sure can bring back many good memories of important days and people.

    sympathy flowers

  2. Thank you for your kind comment. Flowers are always a nice thing to brighten up a day.


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