Flowers send world of messages

As the holiday season draws nearer, the flower economy will begin to boom as people snatch up flower arrangements for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, DongZhi, St. Lucia’s Day, Valentine’s Day and more. 

But remember flowers like any other form of gift have meaning and speak a language all their own. Each blossom, bloom and seemingly insignificant petal say something about not only you but how you perceive them and the relationship you share with them, and while it seems the language of the flower is dead, many still speak it, so use this guide to avoid any bad blood in these coming months. 

Now the most basic thing to learn about flower giving etiquette is how to hand someone a bouquet. For example, handing them the flower upside down means the opposite of what the flower means, which is handy when someone’s favorite flower is one that has a distasteful meaning. 

For example, a yellow carnation, which means disappointment and rejection; however, upside down it would mean pride and acceptance. 

The way the ribbon is tied is also significant. If you tie the ribbon to the left, the meaning of the flowers apply to you, but if it is tied to the right, it applies to the receiver, so a bouquet of pink roses with a ribbon to the left signifies you want yourself to be happy, while a bouquet of pink roses with a ribbon to the right signifies you wish for the receiver to be happy. 

But be careful because flowers are not always something that can be given without thought in many cultures outside of our own. There are rules you should know in case you ever visit. 

In Japan, leaving flowers on a student’s desk after their passing is a valued way to honor their life. Sadly, though, this has led to a very subtle form of bullying. Placing a flower either in a vase or by itself on a living student’s desk is essentially telling the student that their death is wished for. 

In Russia and the Ukraine it is seen as bad luck to give a woman an even number of flowers, especially if she is about to be married, and in Italy avoid gifting your host/est yellow flowers as they are a sign of jealousy. 

But, of course, outside of those countries, namely here in America and Britain, flowers have a very simple language. However, there are far too many to name here, so a great resource to use to check the meaning of your flowers before you send them is the Farmers Almanac. Copies of the pamphlet can be found and purchased in stores like Hy-Vee, but it can also be accessed at Farmers Almanac/Flowers Meanings. This link will take you directly to the Almanac’s article detailing several flower species and their symbolic meanings. 

I hope this information is useful for you and you use it responsibly. Happy gifting. 

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