How things change…

March 8, 2010

Letters?  Walkman? Bouquets? Obviously NO! Definitely outdated! In a society so dynamic and oriented to efficiency, everything is constantly moving, is changing very quickly, and nothing survives as it was. Bauman, in his book, has spoken about “Liquid Modernity”: just modernity cannot preserve its shape, it’s concerned with undeterminacy, flexibility, mutability and fragility.

Following this way, and coming back to our topic, we can easily state: wouldn’t it be odd if nowadays a guy gave you a flower to introduce himself and to declare his love? Wouldn’t it be odd if, in the age of hyper text, emails and world wide web, someone sends you a bunch to express a specific message?

Yet, flowers were so important in the past, especially for their meaning. The so-called “language of flowers“, was a Victorian-era means of communication in which various flowers and floral arrangements were used to send coded messages. King Charles II brought the art to Sweden from Persia in the 17th Century, but it originated already long time ago.

Charlotte de la Tour wrote the first flower dictionary in 1819 in Paris. Entitled Le Language des Fleurs, it was immediately a big hit. The new floral language appealed to the Romantic poets and spread through England, where Miss Corruthers of Inverness wrote in 1879 an entire book on the subject: “Flower Lore: The Teachings of Flowers, Historical, Legendary, Poetical and Symbolic.” Her book became the standard source for flower symbolism both in England and the United States.

During the reign of Queen Victoria, in England, which lasted from 1837 to 1901, the language of flowers was as important to people as being “well dressed”. Victorian women elaborated a silent language that allowed them to communicate many feelings that the strict etiquette of the times would not normally allow.

Flowers adorned almost everything: hair, clothing, jewelry, home décor and china. But this language was most commonly communicated through Tussie-Mussies, small bouquets of flowers wrapped in lace and tied with satin. Tussie Mussies were known as “talking bouquets”, and lovers used them to express their feelings to each other.

They would convey messages of love or dislike depending upon which ones were given, their sizes, how they were held, or also grouped together.

Dozens of dictionaries, therefore, were published to help decipher the coded messages.


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