Flowers have their own language, did you know that? We like to think we are fluent in flowers. After all, every flower has its own message and traditional meaning. For example, a chrysanthemum represents cheerfulness, and daisies are innocence and hope. Understanding the language of flowers means understanding their roots – as in, their traditional roots.
A History of Beauty
For those who are religious, flowers take root in the beginning in the Garden of Eden. It is no wonder, then, that flowers first took on decorative purposes in religious ceremonies. Before the 16th Century, we know flowers were largely used for healing and cooking. It wasn’t until the 1500s that we see proof that blooms were used for decoration.
Some of the earliest decor took place during the reign of King Henry VIII, known for his extravagance (among other things). Let’s just say this guy walked down the aisle a few times and had plenty of experience with church decorations. Historic church accounts note – in detail – how much money went toward flowers and evergreens during ceremonies.
Weddings and Funerals
The history of floral wedding rituals begot the traditions we still use today. Flowers covered church aisles and the families’ houses. The bride wore a crown of lilies, roses or daffodils. Many simply picked the flowers that grew around their homes to fashion a headpiece.
Weddings weren’t the only religious ceremony to use flowers. Centuries ago, coffins were reserved for the wealthy. Other deceased persons were wrapped in a winding sheet, which was then covered with flowers. Loved ones would hold rosemary and other flowers and then throw them into the grave.
One of the most beautiful sights is a church decorated with flowers for a wedding. Some of the most popular flowers for weddings are tied to marital symbolism:
- Roses: Love
- Queen Anne’s Lace: Delicate femininity
- Chrysanthemums: Sharing or truth
During funerals, families typically display bouquets sent by friends and family members in sympathy. A beautiful arrangement is a way to honor and respect someone who has passed. Most popular items include wreaths, baskets, hearts and table arrangements.
Everyday Use in the Church
Today, many churches use flowers as decoration outside of ceremonies. One reason is because a flower is a sign of natural beauty. Most people who attend church believe God created the earth, and flowers are a reminder of that ever-present, beautiful creation. Flowers can also symbolize resurrection – or a rebirth. There are several types of flowers that hold significant meaning in different churches year-round:
- Columbine: Holy Spirit
- Daisy: Innocence of the Christ child
- Dandelion: Christ’s passion
- Iris: The Virgin Mary
- Pansy: Remembrance and Meditation
- Anemones: Sorrow and death
- Violet: Humility
Whether it is a special occasion or everyday decor, flowers have been used for centuries in church activities. Years ago, kings decorated churches lavishly, requesting an abundance of flowers for their weddings (and second weddings, and third weddings, and so on). Today, many of those traditions continue in ceremonies from funerals to other sacraments. Because they represent pure, natural beauty, flowers are the perfect complement for people of faith.