The language of flowers is different for different countries
February means that Valentine's Day will soon be here and all around the world, people are showing their loved ones how much they care by sending flowers. However, those flowers could be quite different depending on where you live. There is an extensive language of flowers and just like the various languages that different countries speak, the language of flowers isn't the same. For most of the western world, red roses say “I love you” but there are many other flowers that convey the same sentiment. It's interesting to see what lovers around the world will be giving their sweethearts to show how much they care this month.
Giving flowers in Italy
Italians consider roses the flower of love. However, orchids run a close second in popularity. Pink, or rose colored orchids represent love and white orchids purity. White orchids are a popular wedding flower and peonies are often given to lovers too. Italians also give sunflowers since they are considered the flower of happiness. Hydrangeas or lavender would never be used in a bouquet for one's lover in Italy as they represent coldness and indifference. Regardless which flower the sweetheart receives, they are given in odd numbers. Even numbers are considered unlucky.
Giving flowers in France
The French have a number of customs about flowers as well. They do not give chrysanthemums as a gift. They are always flowers for the dead and often decorate graves or tombs with them. Red carnations are also never given as a gift or included in bouquets. The giver wishes the recipient ill-will or bad luck with them. Red roses are for your lover, not your mother. They are only given as a sign of physical love. Never give an all yellow bouquet, regardless of whatever kinds of flowers it contains. It is a sign of unfaithfulness. White bouquets are reserved for weddings only. As many countries have shown, the number of stems is important as well. The French give odd numbers of stems for good luck, except for the number 13. Even though it is an odd number, the number 13 is considered unlucky no matter what the situation.
Giving flowers in Japan
In Japan, there is a whole language of flowers called Hanakotoba and a number of different meanings are assigned to many flowers. Red camellias and blue forget-me-nots are the flowers of love and yellow camellias are the flower of longing. Cherry blossoms represent someone kind and gentle with zinnias representing loyalty. Gardenias represent secret love and unlike the Italians, the Japanese favor lavender as it represents faithfulness there.
Giving flowers in Russia
Russians give flowers for many occasions, but only odd numbers for happy ones. The western custom of giving a dozen roses to your Valentine would be frowned upon in Russia. Even numbers of stems are reserved for funerals and death. The specific number of stems have special meanings too. One single rose means 'you are my only one; my whole world.' Five stems (usually roses) means 'I love you.' Tulips are a symbol of love and fidelity and white carnations represent true love. It is curious that just like the Japanese, gardenias represent secret love.
Giving flowers in India
The people of India love to celebrate just about any occasion with flowers and while red roses are considered a flower of love, color is more significant to them than the actual blooms. Red is the color of fertility, purity and commitment and the choice of most brides. Red garments, red and golden flowers are the order of the day for an Indian wedding. Flower garlands are bestowed upon the bride and groom on their wedding day and most often, marigolds make up part of this garland. Yellow signifies sanctity and ocher signifies wealth. Many brides also wear jasmine in their hair as well.
Giving flowers in China
Flowers have many meanings to the people of China. The hydrangea is a flower of love (unlike the Italians) and the orchid is a symbol of both love and fertility, so both are generally used at weddings. Red flowers symbolize luck and so red roses or pomegranate flowers are given at celebrations such as birthdays and graduations. When giving a bouquet, each blossom or bud is counted to make sure that there is an uneven number. Like the Russians, the Chinese believe that even numbers bring bad luck. The most revered flower of all is the lotus. If you give a lotus stem with one leaf and a bud, this indicates a perfect union. A single stem on a lotus indicates a shared heart, so these are symbols often seen at weddings.
Learn the world-wide language of flowers
Around the world, we'll celebrate with flowers this month. Even cultures that do not formally recognize Valentine's Day will often make an exception for this day of love. Florists stock extra blossoms and put in more hours to accommodate the extra orders. With our shrinking global boundaries, it is a good idea to learn about flower-giving customs around the world. You never know when your knowledge will be put to good use.