While ascribing meaning and secret messages to flowers is often attributed to the Victorians, it actually has roots in the ancient eastern traditions of Egypt and Greece. History tells us that Lady Wordley Montagu can be credited with sharing the tradition with Western Europe after a visit to Turkey in the 18th century. She said, “there is no color, no flower, no weed, no fruit, herb, pebble or feather, that has not a verse belonging to it.” It was later in Queen Victoria’s time this idea really caught on, and whole books on the language of flowers appeared.
The tradition carries on today, often times in bridal bouquets. When Catherine Middleton married Prince William, she carried an understated collection of lily-of-the-valley, sweet William, hyacinth, and ivy. The contents of her bouquet were closely guarded until the big day because of the symbolism they carried! When it comes to giving flowers (always a lovely idea) it is interesting to note that etiquette considers flowers an ‘attention’ rather than a gift. For this reason, an expression of gratitude, but not a formal thank you note, is required. Here are a few flowers and their meanings to consider for your next bouquet!