The giving of flowers is a custom that has stood the test of time, beginning with the ancient civilization of Rome and Egypt and going forward through the middle Ages and into the Victorian period of history, flowers never exhaust in beauty or tradition.
Flowers have long been thought of as a way to publically display affection and thought without using verbal expression. One of the joys of public display is the idea that one can provide a visual representation of respect, love, kindness, sorrow, congratulation or a variety of other emotions and still remain quite anonymous if the sender is so inclined.
While gifting flowers is generally associated with positive emotion there are instances when it can be quite the opposite. One such notable expression was the giving of Red roses in an upside down fashion. This would indicate that the romance was over or the suitor was no longer interested. Again, without words the sender was able to convey a message either publically or privately for a specific recipient.
In modern society flowers have become even more important and associated with almost any occasion from birth to the end of life and certainly all milestones in between. One of the more notable instances connected to floral arrangements and bouquets are the wedding.
Flowers from the first date to the wedding
Before Facebook, it was necessary to find a suitable mate through the process of conversation and “courting”. A suitor would often spy a beautiful woman and spend the appropriate amount of time trying to gather information and muster up the courage to finally speak to said woman. After a few awkward conversations an afternoon date was often agreed upon wherein the suitor would arrive at the woman’s family home bearing a gift of flowers from one to many, often times even an additional grouping of flowers for her mother as well. Roses and wild flowers were often popular and certainly the type of flowers depended on the location of the suitor and his intended. As the courting continued the size of the bouquet would vary and the significance of the flower choices would intensify to reflect the gamut of emotions from purity to romantic love, leading to the eventual engagement and impending wedding. The wedding would of course involve more flowers.
Why the June Wedding Became So Popular
Between the 1400 and 1500s, May was the month that all enjoyed their ‘annual bath’! As people were only able to bathe thoroughly once each year, the ultimate outcome would have been a very smelly population indeed. Thus by June they still smelled somewhat fresher than they would in April next year. No wonder June was thought to be a good time to hold a special event such as a wedding.
A Rose by Any Other Name
Traditionally, roses have been the most popular flower for giving. There is a message conveyed for most colors of the rose from pure love and friendship to romantic love. While Roses have maintained their status many women long to save the flowers they receive. This has also become a custom beginning with pressing the last remaining bud between the pages of a book, storing in a locket or hanging the roses upside down to dry. Today there are many ways to save the beautiful expressions of love one receives.
Here are a few easy Do-It-Yourself tips to keep the Roses
First take the roses out of the vase and rubber band the stems together very securely. Once they are rubber banded place a push pin in a wall, perhaps in your closet or laundry room and attach the roses to the wall hanging upside down. In a few days theroseswill be completely dry. From 6-12 inches away use hair spray or cleat spray paint and gently spray the petals. Leave hanging one more day and place in vase or even tie ribbon around the stems and place on a bookshelf. If the Roses are kept out of damp, humid, or wet places they will last for several years.
If you do not want to keep the entire bouquet of roses here is another way. This technique is ensures not only the preservation of the roses themselves but that the fragrance lives on as well. There is a common belief that a smell can revive memories and elicit feelings similar to those of falling in love. A jar or bowl being full of happy scents, beautiful petals and happy memories, is a wonderful reminder of the occasion. Once the flowers begin wilting carefully take the petals off the stems and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or tin foil, even newspaper will do. Space the petals so they are not clumped or stacked, they can be a bit overlapping if space is limited. They need to dry for two or three days in a non humid climate. It may take longer if you are in a tropical or humid area.
Once the petals and leaves are completely dry place them in a mixing bowl and add your favorite scented oil using a spray bottle or medicine dropper. Toss gently with your fingers until all of the leaves and petals have been touched. The potpourri should never be wet or soaked, just lightly misted. Place in a vase or a jar and as the scent starts to fade remist with the scented oil. For a seasonal addition or to enhance the decor even more, place in a large bowl on the center of a table. Feel free to add Pine cones or nuts or even rocks and glass marbles. Add scenting as needed to keep fresh.
Choosing Your Arrangement
Whether the arrangement is for a new birth, wedding or the unfortunate passing of a loved one, the sentiment behind the flowers is the most important aspect of the gift. Even in the face of sorrow a fresh, bright, perky arrangement that is esthetically pleasing and offers a delightful aroma is the best choice. There are customs that dictate which flowers are appropriate for each event and then there is the intimate knowledge that comes with having a specific recipient in mind. Roses, carnations, gladiolas, or gerberas can all be wonderful choices. Time, circumstance, color and availability will dictate the gift that is being delivered. As important as the gift of flowers is the meaning behind the flowers. Never underestimate the profound inspiration or encouragement flowers can deliver. Claude Monet was quoted as saying – “I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”