The History Behind the Tradition of Giving Flowers

The History Behind the Tradition of Giving Flowers

You’ve likely sent someone flowers before. Giving flowers is common for celebrating almost any occasion, from birthdays to dates, from anniversaries to funerals. Have you ever stopped to think about why we gift flowers? Why does a beautiful bride walk to the altar with an elegant bouquet in hand? When did flowers become a symbol of romanticism and appreciation?


Though the tradition of gifting flowers dates back millennia, no one knows the specific moment that it originated. We do know that throughout history people have enjoyed flowers and that giving flowers was one of the most common ways used to show love, gratitude, and blessings.

For example, the Greeks used flowers as decorations during ceremonies and then began exchanging flowers as a way of showing affection. The Romans and Ancient Egyptians also have records of using flowers. In China, flowers were placed in vases alongside burning incense or often accompanied music or feasts.

Turkish people during the Middle Ages were the first to write lists of flower symbolism. From there, the tradition of flowers as meaningful gifts spread throughout the world.

Floriography and Giving Flowers

Floriography, also called the language of flowers, is one of the oldest traditions in the world.

Celebrations and Symbols

During ancient times and into the Middle Ages, men and women attached meaning and great importance to flowers. They used them to express their feelings during events or celebrations such as weddings and funerals.

The language of flowers is seen in fields such as literature, art, music, and religion. For example, for Catholics, red or white roses are a symbol of the Virgin Mary. In China, white flowers are used to express condolences at funerals. Famous poets have written about flowers, using them as symbols for many emotions.

Messages and Intentions

Victorian people were experts at floriography and giving flowers. Victorian social norms didn’t allow people to simply tell each other how they felt; thus, many used flowers to send messages and initiate relationships. Daffodils, for example, meant unrequited love. Roses symbolized deep romantic love. During this time period, there were even flower dictionaries so that people could understand what flowers meant.

Flowers given with the right hand meant “yes,” and with the left hand meant “no.” When a man had flowers delivered to a woman, sometimes he would watch. If she held them up near her heart, it meant she accepted. If she turned them upside down, it meant rejection. Some people even came up with their own flower codes so that nosy people wouldn’t understand what was happening in a relationship and gossip about it.

Giving Flowers Today

The practice of gifting flowers with such strongly attached meanings disappeared around World War I. However, certain symbolism, like roses meaning love, has persisted.

Flowers are a beautiful way to express feelings that can’t be expressed in any other way, be it gratitude, love, affection, kindness, or new beginnings. There is always a flower to represent any specific feeling or emotion. In most cases, you can’t go wrong giving flowers to someone. If you are looking for flowers for a special event and are not sure about which ones are the best fit, contact us. We would love to help you find the perfect way to express your feelings.