A single flower or a huge bouquet may express love, remembrance, apology, support or simply be a thoughtful gesture. Throughout human history, flowers have played a significant role as gestures and gifts. Though specific meanings and traditions may change, flowers remain a part of human connection.
Evidence exists that giving flowers has been a significant part of culture since the Middle Ages. In the mid-1700s, the significance increased when the French and English, while visiting Turkey, discovered an entire language of flowers which gave meaning to different flower types. From this, the Victorian culture created a meaning for every characteristic of a flower.
Victorians, living in an era when people did not believe in expressing emotion, found the language of flowers to be an acceptable form of expression. In typical fashion of the Victorian era, great effort and detail went into giving meaning to everything about the flower. Its color, size, condition, any accompanying flower and even flowers' position in relation to other flowers all conveyed meaning without saying a word. For example, a flower presented to someone upside down meant the opposite of its supposed original meaning. The way in which the flowers were presented or received--and which hand was used--also held meaning.
Books and guides created during the Victorian period served as a decoder for those receiving and giving flowers. What you might today say in a text message or email could be sent without a single word, provided you knew the meaning of the flowers and their characteristics. The flower language books, however, were not all written by the same author or in the same time period, so it could have been that the giver and receiver each had a different interpretation of the gesture.
In January the birth flower is the Carnation or the Snowdrop. The Carnation, also known as dianthus, sweet william, pink, and gillyflower, are available in a rainbow of colors and blossom sizes. While carnations are known for their dainty ruffled petals and a sweet fragrance reminiscent of cloves or cinnamon, don’t let their delicate appearance fool you, they are easy to grow, very hearty, and among the longest-lasting cut flowers around.
Even though no one knows for sure, most floral experts believe that carnations are native to the Mediterranean basin. Others believe they first appeared in the Far East. We do know that carnations have been cultivated (and loved) for well over 2,000 years.
They many colors of carnations often have their own individual meaning too. Pink carnations are one of the most popular flowers in all the world and have several traditional meanings, including mother’s love, remembrance, perfect happiness and gratitude. Red carnations much like red roses, are a traditional symbol of love and romance. Light red carnations say to someone “I admire and care for you” while dark red carnations symbolize romantic love. Interestingly, in Victorian times, though they appear bright and cheerful, if you sent a gift of yellow carnations to someone, it symbolized your disappointment with them. White carnations symbolize innocent love and are a traditional good luck gift for a woman.
In France, carnations are grown commercially for their oil, which is used in skin creams, as a muscle relaxant, and for the treatment of hair loss. In Spain, the carnation is the primary flower used in many religious celebrations and national festivals. Here in the United States, in addition to its prominence as the January birth flower, carnations have also been the official flower of Mother’s Day since 1914. So, if your mother was also born in January, you now have two wonderful reasons to honor her with a gift of fragrant, delicate carnations.
The Snowdrop is a white flower with three small petals in the middle surrounded by three larger petals on the outside. It is similar but should not be confused with the Snowflake, which also has six petals but is much larger and all the petals are the same size.
There are two other types of Snowdrops, the Crimean snowdrop also known as Galanthus plicatus, which stands 14 to 15 inches tall flowering in January and March, and the Giant snowdrop or Galanthus elwesii, which is roughly 12 inches tall, flowers in January and February that normally has green blotches on the inner petals.
For many folks it is just fun to try to gain insight into yourself based on your birthday. Many believe that our zodiac sign can tell you everything from personality traits to how to decorate your home. But, if you want even more insight into your personality, I really believe that you ought to check out your birth flower! If nothing else you may just discover a few new tidbits about the flowers if not yourself.