“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
Flowers are one of nature’s greatest gifts, and sending someone a beautiful bouquet can really lift their spirits. Even during times of profound sadness, we send flowers to express love, sympathy, and support.
Every culture—depending on its surrounding geography, spiritual beliefs, and social trends—has a unique flower with which it is associated. Certain traditional flowers are used to celebrate different life occasions and milestone events. For example, it is common in Sweden for a flower girl at a wedding to carry “a bouquet of herbs to ward off evil spirits” while the groom usually has a sprig of thyme in his breast pocket. In some instances, green chrysanthemums are given to welcome the arrival of a new baby. For funerals, there are many flowers that are customary in different cultures.
Traditional Flowers to Express Sympathy
“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies,
that’s for thoughts.” –Ophelia, (Hamlet)
- In Hawaii, leis are worn by mourners and are given to family members at funerals. A garland made of flowers from the native Hala tree is traditionally used at burials. Other tropical flowers such as anthuriums, strelitzias, and orchids are also common.
- In Mexico, the “cempoalxochitl flower is traditionally used as the ‘flower of the dead.’” Known for its resemblance to a marigold, the vivid orange color, and heady fragrance, it is believed to guide the deceased’s soul to the altar during celebrations for Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead).
- In Japan, chrysanthemums play a very significant role. They symbolize death, and, at funerals, bright colors are considered taboo, so white chrysanthemums are always preferable.
Pick Something Special and Meaningful
Flowers are favored by so many because they are pure and beautiful for beauty’s sake. Sometimes, when we lose someone we love or want to express sincere sympathy and condolences, it’s best to send a bouquet that is personally meaningful. Pick something that reminds you of time shared with loved ones. If they were born in spring, give tulips, irises, or daffodils (if you can find them). If you’re offering flowers in the case that someone has passed away, send a blossom they loved in life. If you have special memories of spending time together in summertime, send sunflowers or June-blooming roses. If autumn conjures memories that comfort, chrysanthemums, marigolds or asters are perfect choices.
While gladiolas are usually associated with funerals, they are actually some of the most beautifully ostentatious flowers in existence. They probably have the funereal connotation because they are commonly used in large sprays of flowers due to their long, blossom-covered, hearty stems. In British popular culture, the late Barry Humphries (beloved for his “Dame Edna” persona) loved gladiolas and helped give the flower a funny, campy connotation.
From Chelsea Flowers
Chelsea Flowers always offers the most elegant options, and sympathy arrangements are no exception.
- With Our Sympathy: A mélange of white blooms with hints of emerald filler, this arrangement includes carnations, roses, spray chrysanthemums, snapdragons, spray roses, ruscus, and eustoma.
- Sympathy Basket: Roses, eucalyptus, snapdragons, and spray roses comprise this pastoral plethora of blossoms.
- Cross: For traditionally Christian ceremonies, a cross made from white and red roses, chrysanthemums, and mixed greenery is divinely perfect.
- Heart: To express enduring love, Chelsea Flowers offers a special heart made of sweet avalanche roses and ivy.
For more information on traditional flowers mentioned in this blog, consult the links below:
For more information on the floral options offered by Chelsea Flowers, check out the website and links below:
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