Tired of the same red roses for Valentine's Day? Try something different and make it mean even more!
During the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) and due primarily to the young monarch's fascination with it, floriology or the meaning of flowers became all the rage during the 1800s. The idea that flowers have meanings dates back to ancient Egypt, but was especially cultivated during the Renaissance in Middle-Eastern harems where secret messages were conveyed through the careful arrangement of bouquets. In the 1730s, an English woman published a book detailing some of the meanings as described by such mid-Eastern traditions, but no one paid much attention until Queen Victoria took the throne 100 years later and fell in love with and married the handsome German Prince Albert. The nation went gaga over the young couple, spawning an interest in all things romantic. Indeed, we owe much of our obsession with Valentine's Day to the Victorians, whose interest in all things love was sparked by the young royals' public displays of affection. Indeed, during Victoria's reign, over 400 flower dictionaries were published in England alone and flower classes were added to school curricula.
Even today you don't have to purchase a huge mass of expensive flowers to make a real statement -- if you know the meaning of flowers. A single bloom, if accompanied by a note identifying the meaning behind the flora, can be extremely impactful. People think they MUST send red roses at Valentine's, but often a red rose is technically not appropriate, as when a relationship is new or platonic. A red rose implies (hopefully) permanent, passionate, monogamy-type love. Other flowers are more sublte and might actually be enjoyed more. I do not particularly like red roses, for example, as they have an unfortunate connection in my mind. I would much prefer pink roses (meaning elegance and refinement or devotion) and white roses (purity, innocence). Both pink and white roses together mean "I love you and will love you always." Red and white roses mixed together mean "We are united" and are also a symbol of England (remember the War of the Roses?) Yellow roses mean friendship or can be a sign of "no" as in "no I am not interested in you romantically, but yes as a friend." Red and yellow roses mixed are a sure sign of congratulations. A snapdragon means "You are a gracious lady" whereas heather, particularly pink heather, wishes "Good luck!" Daisies represent openness and honesty and simple joys. Pink carnations let someone know "You make me happy."
Colors are very descriptive, too, with purple representing royalty, respect, and honor, whereas lavender represents fullness or completeness as in lavender carnations mean "a mature beauty," White often means innocence and purity, but in some circumstances can also imply secrecy as in a secret, chaste love from afar.
The stage of the flower's opening has significance, too. For example, a single closed rosebud implies the beginning of a relationship whereas a full bloom signifies gratitude for an already blossoming relationship.
There are plenty of websites that list the most common meanings of many flowers and even arrangement fillers like baby's breath. It is best to check at least three sites to ensure accuracy. And since the recipient of your bouquet may consult a source other than those you consulted, it is best to write a word of description, explaining exactly what you mean to convey. This creativity and thoughtfulness may go much further in impressing than spending a lot of money on the same-old-same-old red roses.
Are you looking for a fun Valentine activity for your family or for children? Do what I did. Today I set up a flower show at my son's school with the meanings of the flowers and the children were allowed to create their own bouquets for their moms or grandmothers and write cards that explained what they wanted to convey. It went over very well!