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Symbolic Meaning of Flowers

Human feelings and emotions are often too subtle and complex for words. Sometimes, they spring up so forcefully and spontaneously that we are at a loss to know how to communicate them.

At other times, we have words too, but we need to strengthen their impact further. We need some visible symbols that are eloquent enough to compensate our verbal inadequacies. It is at such occasions that we need flowers to fill in the linguistic blanks. We need them to express our love, sympathy, consolation, appreciation and admiration. Flowers, as they say, express it all.

Flowers have different shapes, hues and fragrances. Each of these traits has some symbolic meaning. There are some interesting anecdotes and legends about the special colors and other attributes of flowers.

It is said that when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, roses first turned red as they blushed with shame. When Greek Olympians returned with victories, their admirers placed laurel wreaths around their necks to express their admiration. Here, the laurel wreaths symbolized victory and glory.

It is said that carnations sprouted forth from the spot where Mother Mary’s tears fell as she cried at the foot of the cross where Jesus Christ was crucified. Carnations, therefore, are the symbol of the undying maternal love.

Mother Mary is known for her chastity, virginity and purity. White lily symbolizes these traits quite adequately.  Ancient Egyptian beauty Cleopatra threw roses at the feet of Marc Anthony as symbol of her love for him.

We often become dumb when we have to express our romantic feelings for someone. Since flowers are “the sexual reproductive organs of the plants” they are, therefore, symbolic of our sensual and voluptuous feelings.

Sometimes it looks inappropriate, embarrassing and even vulgar to express our amorous feelings, as we experience them—“nudely”. It is here that the flowers come handy to communicate them without making us offensive. So flowers express our deepest feelings in socially acceptable way.

In times gone by especially during Elizabethan period, it was considered immoral and against social etiquette to speak out the feelings of love openly. Since some flowers were associated with certain special meanings and traits, they were used to express those feelings.

Here are some flowers and their symbolic meanings: Apple blossoms symbolize hope and fortune; Amaryllis symbolizes pride; Bellflower stands for gratitude; Blue Periwinkle expresses friendship; Blue Violet communicates modesty; Bluebells are for constancy and Carnation symbolizes pride and glory in victory.


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