During the Victorian era, a unique and fascinating form of communication blossomed, quite literally, through the language of flowers. Floriography is the art of expressing sentiments through specific flowers and arrangements. From declarations of love to secret messages, the Victorian language of flowers was a subtle way for people to convey their emotions.
The covert language of flowers
The roots of the Victorian language of flowers gained popularity during the reign of Queen Victoria in the 19th century. In a time when societal norms discouraged open displays of affection between lovers, the flowers provided a covert means of expressing one’s feelings.
Each flower held its own distinct symbolism, allowing individuals to convey specific emotions or messages. For example, a red rose represented passionate love. A yellow rose signified friendship or jealousy. The choice of flower, the color, and even the arrangement held significance. And an entire bouquet could convey a more complex message.
The art of Victorian floriography
To navigate the intricacies of floriography, enthusiasts published floral dictionaries and guides. These provided detailed explanations of the meanings associated with different flowers, empowering individuals to craft personalized and meaningful bouquets.
The Victorian language of flowers encompassed a wide range of sentiments and emotions. Examples include:
Pink roses: Gentleness and admiration.
Lily of the Valley: Sweetness and humility.
Forget-Me-Nots: Remembrance and true love.
Violets: Modesty and faithfulness.
Sunflowers: Adoration and loyalty.
Orchids: Exotic beauty and love.
The complex messages of floral arrangements
Not only did individual flowers carry meaning, but the arrangement of flowers also played a crucial role in conveying specific messages.
The language of flowers allowed for romantic gestures without overt declarations. Secret admirers could send carefully chosen flowers to convey their affections, and lovers could exchange bouquets as a silent expression of their emotions.
As societal norms evolved and communication became more direct, the practice of floriography gradually waned. The language of flowers lost its significance as more explicit modes of expression emerged.
Next time you encounter a bouquet or spot a specific bloom, take a moment to reflect on the hidden language it may be whispering!
Source: “Victorian Language of Flowers – Floriography” — Museum Selection