Flow­ers do speak

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - OPINION - Ca­role Christ­man Koch Wel­come To

For lo the win­ter is past; The rain is over and gone; The flow­ers ap­pear on earth; The time of singing of birds is come,

And the voice of the tur­tle-dove is heard in our land. … Song of Solomon I’ve been the re­cip­i­ent of flow­ers, as well as, the giver of flow­ers. Most of us have given bou­quets of flow­ers to ex­press the feel­ings we can’t seem to put into words. We send flow­ers to ex­press the hap­pi­ness of a new­born baby. We send them to ex­press sor­row over some­one’s ill­ness or the death of a loved one. We use them for ro­man­tic ex­pres­sions and on wed­ding days. They are used in im­por­tant church rites and fes­ti­vals to this day.

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing with flow­ers has been used in the na­ture wor­ship of the early re­li­gions in Greek and Ro­man mythol­ogy. Flo­ral sym­bols have been used by the an­cient Chi­nese, Assyr­i­ans, Egyp­tians and Indians.

Dur­ing the reign of El­iz­a­beth I (1533-1603), was the first men­tion of flo­ral sym­bols. In The Mys­tery and Magic of Trees and Flow­ers, the poet, Wil­liam Hun­nis used phrases such as, “marigolds is for mar­riage.”

How­ever, it was the Turks who de­vel­oped the art of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with flow­ers and ob­jects that cov­ered most ev­ery sen­ti­ment. It was called Salem, where the re­cip­i­ent guessed the word that rhymed with the flower or ob­ject they re­ceived.

The Salem cus­tom be­came pop­u­lar in Eng­land, in the early 1700s, through Lady Mary Wort­ley Mon­tagu, whose hus­band was the English am­bas­sador to Turkey. Her Turk­ish Let­ters, about the Salem prac­tice of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween lovers, was pub­lished af­ter her death.

Vic­to­rian Eng­land, who al­ready loved their flow­ers, dropped the ob­jects from the Salem cus­tom and kept only the flower sym­bol­ism of send­ing flow­ers that had hid­den mes­sages.

Soon a num­ber of flo­ral dic­tio­nar­ies sprouted across Europe, even com­ing to Amer­ica. The first dic­tio­nary, Le Lan­gage des Fleurs, was writ­ten in 1819 by Char­lotte de La­tour. Some of these early dic­tio­nar­ies weren’t al­ways con­sis­tent. Some were listed by color, scent, mythol­ogy, ap­pear­ance and sen­ti­ment.

The Vic­to­rian women loved dis­play­ing these flower dic­tio­nar­ies in their homes and study­ing them. Flow­ers adorned ev­ery­thing from hair, gowns, jew­elry to home dé­cor. Women car­ried hand bou­quets in dif­fer­ent forms, such as tussie-mussies (herbs and flow­ers to­gether), nosegays (flow­ers folded in han­kies or worn around the neck), and bou­ton­niere (worn by men in but­ton­hole lapels).

Flow­ers con­veyed dif­fer­ent mes­sages de­pend­ing on how they were pre­sented, even the color had mean­ing. Hand­ing them up­right was a pos­i­tive thought, while up­side down would be neg­a­tive. By us­ing the right hand, the mes­sage could mean “yes,” and the left “no.” Since there were so many dif­fer­ent flower dic­tio­nar­ies, one won­ders if lovers could he heart­bro­ken over a mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

Sadly, as the Vic­to­rian era ended, so did the pop­u­lar­ity of the lan­guage of flow­ers.

Here are a few fa­vorite flow­ers with their mean­ing with a bit of trivia:

Car­na­tions have sev­eral color mean­ings pur­ple for an­tipa­thy, red for ad­mi­ra­tion, and yel­low for dis­dain, pink for love, white for pure love. They are the flower em­blem for Mother’s Day, due to Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day hol­i­day. It was her mother’s fa­vorite, as well as, Pres­i­dent McKin­ley’s.

Daisy stands for in­no­cence, mod­esty, and sim­plic­ity. It was known, in Chauser’s time, as “day’s eye” be­cause it opens in the morn­ing and closes at night. The su­per­sti­tion I re­call as a child was to pluck off its petals one at a time, say­ing, “he loves me” first and “he loves me not” sec­ond etc. The last petal told the truth. In­ci­den­tally, I had daisies for my wed­ding bou­quet.

Daf­fodil sym­bol­izes char­ity, in­spi­ra­tion and re­birth. It’s as­so­ci­ated with Easter’s res­ur­rec­tion and re­newal of life. It sym­bol­izes “new be­gin­nings.” Daf­fodils are the Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety’s sym­bol of new life and hope. It is the birth­day flower of March.

Hy­acinth sym­bol­izes play­ful­ness, con­stancy and a sporty at­ti­tude. A pur­ple hy­acinth means “I’m sorry” and white means “I’ll pray for you.” The leg­end tells us the name came from the Greek myth when Apollo’s beloved, Hy­acinthus was killed ac­ci­den­tally. Apollo then changed the blood drops into a flower called hy­acinth.

For­get-me-not means friend­ship, lov­ing remembrance and fidelity. They are of­ten used in fu­neral flow­ers. One leg­end claims, af­ter God named all the plants and was leav­ing, he heard a voice at his feet, “What about me?” He then picked the flower and said, “I shall never for­get you again, be­cause I for­got you once.” Hence its name. It is the state flower of Alaska.

Lilac name comes from the Per­sian “lilac” for blue. The com­poser, Frederic Cowen, of­ten wrote lyrics about flow­ers. One about the lilac is, “I dreamed that love should steal upon the heart like sum­mer dawn on the awak­en­ing world, soft, grad­ual.” Li­lacs are con­sid­ered the first emo­tions of love and are of­ten used for a love bou­quet. Both Thomas Jef­fer­son and Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton grew li­lacs in their gar­dens.

Pansy comes from the French “pensee,” mean­ing “thought.” It was be­lieved pan­sies could make your lover think of you. The faces on the pansy cre­ated names such as mon­key face, peep­ing Tom, and three faces in a hood. The com­mon pansy (or vi­o­let) is the state flower of Rhode Is­land, Illi­nois, and New York.

Tulip name came from the Turk­ish hat called “tull­bend,” a tur­ban, which it re­sem­bles. Yel­low ones are for cheer­ful thoughts, white for for­give­ness, and pur­ple for roy­alty. In Hol­land, dur­ing the 17th cen­tury, there was tulip­ma­nia -- ev­ery­one wanted tulips. It be­came the na­tional em­blem of Hol­land. Be­tween 1703 and 1730, in Turkey, the Turks had 1,550 va­ri­eties of tulips. It is a sym­bol of per­fect love.

Lily-of-the-Val­ley means hu­mil­ity and pu­rity. It was used ex­ten­sively for medicines. There have been many recipes in us­ing this flower for ail­ments. It was a pop­u­lar flower for wed­dings. It was fea­tured in the re­cent wed­ding of Prince Wil­liam and Cather­ine Mid­dle­ton.

Sun­flower is em­blem­atic of the soul turn­ing to Christ, be­cause the flower turns to­ward the sun. It sym­bol­izes glory, grat­i­tude, and remembrance. It takes its name from the re­sem­blance of its broad golden disc and the sur­round­ing petals to the sun. It can reach 20 feet in height and the seeds are ed­i­ble.

Vi­o­let is symbolic of faith­ful­ness, pu­rity, and a charm against evil. The Ro­mans be­lieved vi­o­lets pre­vented drunk­en­ness and re­lieved hang­overs in the morn­ing. Napoleon I, on his way to ex­ile promised, “to re­turn with the vi­o­lets.” Due to this state­ment, he was nick­named “Cor­po­ral Vi­o­let.” It is called the flower of mod­esty be­cause it hides its flow­ers in heart- shaped leaves.

Yes, flow­ers in­deed ex­press what we can’t seem to say our­selves. I’ll let Har­riet Beecher say what I can’t seem to say: “Flow­ers are the sweet­est things that God made and for­got to put a soul into.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.