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Flower Meanings

Floral Traditions: What different flowers mean, when and how to present them

Flowers are a part of almost every culture in one way or another. They are often part of ceremonious occasions, such as deaths, weddings and births, but many flowers have a particular significance and purpose in some cultures.


These beautiful and festive flowers are associated with Christmas due to an old Mexican tale about a small girl who presented the baby Jesus with a bouquet of weeds. Upon placing the bouquet, it burst into beautiful red petals and have since be referred to in Mexico as “Flowers of the Holy Night'. The shape of the Poinsettia and its leaves are thought to resemble the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus.


Interestingly enough, deep crimson roses are historically considered to be a symbol of mourning. Although today they are a popular feature of many weddings, each color of rose signifies its own meaning. Pinks represent thankfulness and grace, yellow equates joy and white, innocence. Although the combination of red and white were thought to symbolize unity.


Today this plant represents a time to express love, this however, is now far from its original use according to Druid traditions. In the beginning mistletoe was used to signify a meeting place where no violence could take place. This plant would have been a token sent through messengers as a wordless way to arrange the terms of a meeting.

When to give flowers

Many occasions justify flowers. Funerals and flowers always go hand in hand (most of the time) but when choosing whether to send sympathy flowers to a funeral or the deceased’s family, it’s imperative to consider religion. While most accept flowers, some do not and some are very specific about what sort of flowers are appropriate.

Flowers often adorn weddings. Bouquets and décor are always overflowing with beautiful arrangements, but oddly enough, it’s not common to give flowers to the happy couple – at least not in Western traditions.

Births or birthdays are another common time to present flowers, generally the type of flower will depend on the individual receiving them, however, potted plants are also an acceptable offering.


Flowers have been and still are one of the most fundamental tokens of love. They are often presented in grand gestures, but also in passing, either way there is some significance behind the gesture – big or small. Roses are widely considered the flower of love by modern culture, but popularity of certain flowers wax and wane with time.

Orchids, peonies, tulips and Gerber daisies have all experienced a rise in popularity over the years, each one becoming a favorite token of love and affection.

Next time you plan to give flowers, whatever the occasion, do some research and make that special bouquet even more significant by choosing flowers that truly convey what it is you are trying to say. Knowing more about the symbolism of the everyday gestures we make and how to create even more impact with our gifts is an important part of retaining the cultural significance of traditions, such as flower giving.