February means love is in the air as couples prepare to celebrate their love and singles rapidly swipe right to find their soulmate before the big day arrives.
As Valentines Day rapidly approaches and our flower shop gets busier and busier, I began to wonder to myself- why do we celebrate a Patron Saint of the Catholic Church? And why do we do so by giving each other flowers? Roses in particular are incredibly popular this time of year but...why?
Aw, St. Valentine, everything about this man screams "Patron Saint of Lovers", am I right?
A priest in the third century of Rome, Valentine rebelled against Emperor Claudius II by performing marriages for young lovers in secret. Claudius thought that men were better soldiers than lovers and banned any and all marriage ceremonies. Valentines actions were eventually discovered and he was sentenced to death! (Don't worry, this is where the story gets romantic, I promise!)
During his time in prison, Valentine fell in love with the jailers daughter. They would hand love notes to each other when she would visit him before his death on February 14th, 270 AD.
In one of these notes, he wrote "From your Valentine", an expression we still use to this day! Years later, in 496 AD, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th Valentines day to honor the man who lived and died by the code of love.
That answers some of my questions, but I was still left wondering where the flowers came in. You could say my interest in the subject...wouldn't wilt. I'm sorry about that.
In Victorian England, talking openly and passionately about your feelings was taboo. Lovers did as lovers do and decided they were going to create an entire language just to speak to each other. I, on the other hand can't even get my husband to call me back while he is at the grocery store.
This new language was called Floriography, or "the Language of Flowers" and we still use it to this day when choosing flowers for weddings, funerals and holidays.
Lovers could have a full conversation just by sending flowers back and forth to each other. "Iris", "Canterbury bell", "red carnation", "poppy" (ouch). The idea of these flowers having meaning behind them is ingrained in our history and the artwork that hangs in our museums. Take the death of Ophelia in Hamlet. When she goes mad and drowns herself, she is found holding a bouquet of rosemary, pansies, fennel, rue, columbines, and a single daisy. Remembrance, thoughts, strength, disdain, folly, and innocence.
Roses have several meanings depending on the color. The red rose is so popular on valentines day because the red symbolizes the deep passion you feel for your lover. New romance? Try pink roses. White roses are for purity and innocence. Whatever you do, do not send yellow roses if you are looking to be romantic with your Valentine- they symbolize friendship, you would be friend zoning yourself.
What kind of floriography message are you looking to send this Valentines day? Leave a comment below with your message and I will try to decode it. Or, call in and order your bouquet today before time runs out! This is our busiest time of year- don't be the person standing in line with the last wilting yellow roses from the grocery store at 5pm on the big day!