Floral arrangements and bouquets can be found in every culture on the planet. The traditions and occasions may vary. The colours that are selected, the species that are chosen depend on the culture, the class, the season and perhaps event the position of the moon!
The celebrations and the etiquette surrounding the giving and receiving of bouquets and other plants and flowers differ. However the gifting and displaying of floral arrangements is a tried and true tradition that shows few signs of going away. Here’s a look into the customs and celebrations where floral bouquets and other arrangements are seen and their significance. Not just at home, but in the Far East as well.
Our Occasions for Floral Bouquets as Gifts
Few things express true love like a big bouquet of red roses. If you are a man and have somehow angered your favourite female, a gift of roses (long stemmed of course!) may be just the thing you need to win back a place in your ladies heart.
Mother’s Day is a popular time of year to show how much you appreciate everything your Mum has put up with from you! Beginning with your birth (that’s got to have hurt!) through to your rebellious teenage years, scratching the car, unsanctioned house parties and so on. Mother’s Day is one of the busiest times for florists all over the country!
To Celebrate the Birth of a New Baby
Sending a family a baby bouquet is a lovely way to let them know they are in your thoughts. At such a busy time, it may be appreciated if the bouquet is delivered to the home by the florist as opposed to an impromptu visit. Some new mothers appreciate receiving visitors and flowers while still in the hospital. Others may need time to relax and recover before they are ready to entertain guests.
Of course pinks, soft reds and whites are great “girl” colours. Bouquets to welcome new baby boys will often make use of white, blue and purple blossoms. Some people opt to have a bouquet built from flowers that are “gender neutral” in colour. Yellows, greens and white can come together to make an awesome arrangement for a family welcoming a new member.
House Warming Gift Bouquets
Have a new arrival joining your neighbourhood? Sending a bright bouquet is a great way to welcome the family to the street. Bidding farewell to an old friend destined for a new neighbourhood far away? Sending a bouquet to the new address will surely put a smile on their face when they arrive.
Feeling under the Weather?
We sometimes like to send a bouquet to a friend or family member who may be feeling ill or in the hospital for treatment. Bright bouquets that are full of colour and creatively assembled can work wonders when our spirits need lifting. It’s made even better when we include a card to let our loved one know they are in our minds.
It is always a sad and troubling time when a friend or family member passes on. Flower bouquets are still sometimes given or brought to the funeral. These should not be showy affairs, and traditionally white flowers will form the bulk of the bouquet. If a family asks that charitable donations be made in lieu of flowers, it is best to respect their wishes.
Eastern Traditions and Taboos
We live in an increasingly multicultural society and are privileged to have friends from the Far East. In China and Japan, bouquets and flowers are exchanged as gifts and used to celebrate important milestones. Wedding ceremonies between young Asians may be traditional or reminiscent of the Christian style celebrations that we are familiar with.
We are knowledgeable regarding our own etiquette with regards to giving and receiving bouquets and flowers as gifts. But you may be surprised at some of the “taboos” surrounding the selection of colour and the species of flowers included in a bouquet. A gift of cut flowers is sometimes entirely inappropriate!
Both the Japanese and the Chinese avoid the number four whenever possible. It is associated with death and misfortune because in Japanese and Chinese the pronunciation of the words four and death and the way they are written are very similar. Never give anything in fours or include four stems of a single type of flower in a bouquet. Nine is another number that is believed to bring hardship to the Japanese, so it’s best to avoid giving flowers or items in general in nines.
Flowers or gifts that are white are also a bad idea. White is associated with death and funerals in China and Japan. Even when it comes to envelopes, wrapping paper and ornamental bows, white should be avoided. Gold and red are always excellent choices when considering a bouquet for a friend from the east.
Red and gold symbolize prosperity and happiness. Red has always been associated with fire in China which provides warmth and is believed to ward off demons and spirits that are up to no good. Brides in China will often wear a red wedding dress, although the influence of western culture is making white bridal gowns somewhat more acceptable. It is very common for families to display red talismans at the door to their house for good luck.
Even better than giving a bouquet to an Asian friend is to gift a live plant. In Buddhism all of life is sacred and so killing (even cutting plants) is undesirable. In China, any gift that is associated with cutting signals to the recipient that you want to “cut” or sever your relationship with them. Never give kitchen knives, scissors or any sharp object as a gift.
Bamboo and orchids are excellent choices should you decide to buy a live plant instead of a bouquet for a friend from the East. Lucky bamboo are often tied together and are especially prized. Outside of Asia, you may see them in groups of four, but in China and Japan this is not done. Many people around the world now include lucky bamboo plants in their homes. Maybe it will cause fortune to smile upon us! Or it may just make a lovely, green centrepiece.