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Long before they were given as gifts, Chrysanthemums were used across the world for their medical properties.
They were first grown in China and are referred to as one of the Four Gentlemen, which also includes the plum blossom, the orchid, and bamboo.
They are part of the Asteraceae family which is the biggest family of flowering plants – it has over 23,000 species in its ranks.
Now, Chrysanthemums are regularly given as gifts, but what do they symbolize? Let’s find out…
Flower of Commitment and Love
Chrysanthemums featured heavily in the language of flowers. The language of flowers was a system used in the Victorian era that assigned an unspoken meaning to each type and color of the flower.
Flowers weren’t the only thing the Victorian assigned meanings to, we get anniversary gifts and many of our Western wedding traditions from the Victorian era.
Chrysanthemums were incredibly popular and important within the language of flowers. There are over 1,000 different varieties of Chrysanthemums, so it gave the Victorians lots of different opportunities to assign meanings.
Chrysanthemums are hugely popular 150+ years later. Not only are Chrysanthemums loved by the Western world but they are hugely culturally important and popular in the East as well.
Passion (Original Symbolism)
Chrysanthemums come in a huge variety of colors, some of which are incredibly vivid. This fascinated the Victorians and many plants with burning bright colors were given special meaning in the language of flowers.
Chrysanthemums that came in red, bright orange and bright pink colors were associated with passionate love. Not the loyal and gentle love that we will talk about in the next section, but something more intense.
Red and Pink Chrysanthemums were often given at the beginning of courtships as a symbol of young love and growing devotion.
Loyalty (Original Symbolism)
As we have touched on a few times in this piece already, the Victorians loved the symbolism. They often associated the concept of love and devotion with purity.
Therefore, at the time, lots of flowers that came in completely white varieties were used to decorate weddings and gifted to spouses. The white wedding dress was born from a similar concept.
White Chrysanthemums were no exception to this. Their delicate white leaves were seen to mirror devoted and unblemished love. They symbolized loyalty and complete devotion. A bouquet of white Chrysanthemums was one of the sweetest gifts to get your spouse.
Sorrow (Original Symbolism)
Bunches of yellow Chrysanthemums were given to mourners at funerals. They were often key features in the decoration of Victorian funerals.
This may seem odd to us, as we associate yellow with joy and happiness. However, the color had a completely different reputation in the Victorian era.
Yellow stands of other flowerers were gifted to symbolize jealousy or regret. Yellow Chrysanthemums were often associated with a feeling of Sorrow.
Not only would yellow Chrysanthemums be used to decorate funeral homes and churches hosting funerals, but many widows would be inundated with the flowers.
This did not end at the funeral. It was common to send widows, or orphans, yellow Chrysanthemums on the anniversaries of their loved one’s deaths. This was seen as a sign of respect for the dead and support for the grieving.
Recovery (Original Symbolism)
In the Victorian era, purple Chrysanthemums were given to people who were unwell and staying in hospitals.
The Victorians loved the color purple which was incredibly expensive to create synthetically. So, purple flowers were highly valued in the language of flowers. They were often tied into ideas of royalty and respect.
The purple Chrysanthemums, however, were often gifted to those who were struggling with illness and needed encouragement. They used Violet Chrysanthemums for the same purpose.
Good Luck at New Year (New Meaning)
Chrysanthemums are not just popular in the West, they are hugely popular in the East as well. They are particularly loved in China.
An example of this is how Chrysanthemums are gifted during Chinese New Year celebrations.
Yellow (gold) and Red are lucky colors in Chinese culture and both represent wealth and good luck. Children are given red and gold enveloped by family members at New Year.
It is also common for adults to give each other red and yellow flowers. Chrysanthemums are an incredibly popular flower to give at this time of year (and throughout the whole celebration).
Young Love (New Meaning)
Pink Chrysanthemums are often gifted at the start of a new relationship. As well as, to new mothers.
They are reminiscent of the blossoms of a cherry tree and are therefore often seen as a sign of Spring and newness. They can often be paired with green Chrysanthemums (see next section) to celebrate new beginnings.
These gentle pink flowers are the perfect gift for your new lover. They also represent the start of a relationship between a mother and her newborn baby.
Good Luck on New Adventures (New Meaning)
As we mentioned before, there are over 1,000 varieties of Chrysanthemum, most of which have their own meaning. As we cannot cover them all, we will end with the meaning of the green flowers.
Green flowers are often given as a gift at the start of a new adventure or chapter in someone’s life. The green symbolizes rebirth and a chance to grow something new and (hopefully) better.