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Anniversary Flowers: How Do You Choose?
Anniversary Flowers: What Should You Give?
Undoubtedly, the most celebrated anniversary is the wedding anniversary and there is no better way to express your feelings than with flowers. Who can fail to be thrilled when they open the door and find a bouquet or arrangement complete with a romantic note? Of course where women are concerned romance is not complete without flowers; But there are so many – how do you choose? One way is to look to the anniversaries themselves and draw inspiration from tradition. Flowers alone are a beautiful gift, the flowers you think of are even better.
Prior to the 1930’s just anniversaries 1, 10, 20, 25, 50, and 70 were assigned a material and flower but as more have been added over the years, these are the traditional ones most people are familiar with.
1st – Carnation: A symbol of pride and beauty. Also known as Paper Anniversary.
As the goddess Artemis was returning home from an unsuccessful day’s hunting, she met a shepherd playing a pipe. She got angry, accused him of scaring the animals and gouged out his eyes. But then she realized the terrible thing she had done and threw her eyes to the ground and carnations grew in their place.
2nd – Lily of the Valley: Symbol of purity of heart. Also known as cotton anniversary.
The lily of the valley was created from Eve’s tears as she was cast out of the Garden of Eden.
3rd – Sunflower: Symbol of pure thought and devoted love. Also known as Leather Anniversary.
When Helios, the sun god, did not return her love, the nymph Cleeti was so sad that she sat on the ground day and night watching his chariot move across the sky, and eventually her limbs rooted to the earth and she was transformed. The flower we know today as the sunflower.
4 – Hydrangea: a symbol of heartfelt feelings. Also known as linen anniversary.
First discovered in Japan, the name hydrangea is derived from the Greek ‘hydra’ meaning water and ‘angos’ meaning jar or vessel, roughly translating to ‘water barrel’, hydrangea needs a lot of water.
5 – Daisy: Symbol of devoted love and happiness. Also known as wood anniversary.
The daisy is said to have grown from the tears of Mary Magdalene at the crucifixion of Christ.
6 – Calla lily. A symbol of grandeur and beauty. Also known as Iron Jubilee.
In ancient Rome the calla lily was associated with the winter solstice and the flowers were forced to bloom indoors during the darkest time of the year to celebrate the protection of light. In the early 20th century they were considered a funeral flower but later became associated with weddings.
7 – Freesia: symbol of innocence and thoughtfulness. Also known as copper anniversary.
Freesias go back about 200 years in South Africa. These fragrant flowers got their name when Dr Christian Ecklan named them after his friend the German botanist Friedrich HT Freise.
8 – Lilac: symbol of youthful innocence. Also known as Potter’s Anniversary.
Lilac gets its name from the Greek word ‘syrinx’ which means ‘pipe’ as woodsmen make their pipes from lilac.
9 – Birds of paradise flowers: symbols of joy and grandeur. Also known as Willow Anniversary.
The Bird of Paradise is native to South Africa known as Crane Flower. It is named after the true Birds of Paradise which are the most beautiful birds in the world, with their brightly colored plumage and tail fans.
10 – Daffodil: symbol of new beginnings and eternal life. Also known as tin
One of the most popular spring flowers. Don’t always bunch them, one flower means bad luck.
11 – Tulip: symbol of declaration of love. Also known as Steel Anniversary.
The most popular spring flower of all time, known for its many colors, heights and shapes.
12th – Peony: Symbol of happy married life and good health. Also known as silk anniversary.
Paeon was a student of Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing. Leto, the goddess of fertility, taught him how to obtain a magical root that would ease the pain of women in childbirth. But Asclepius became jealous and threatened to kill his disciple. Zeus saved Paeon by turning him into a peony flower.
13 – Chrysanthemum: symbol of loyalty and optimism. Also known as Lace Anniversary.
Confucius first wrote about the chrysanthemum around 500 BC. Until recently it was the flower of the nobles and commoners were not allowed to grow it. They are one of China’s ‘Four Most Graceful Plants’, the others being orchids, bamboo and ume. The Chinese say; If you want to be happy all your life, grow chrysanthemums.
14 – Dahlia: symbol of prestige and good taste. Also known as Ivory Anniversary.
An ancient legend says that dahlias appeared where the last fire died before the Ice Age. The birth of the dahlia became a sign of hope that life and happiness would eventually return.
15 – rose. A symbol of love, passion and perfection. Also known as Crystal Anniversary.
The rose in all its forms is still the most popular flower in the world and is considered a symbol of love.
20 – Aster: symbol of patience and love of variety. Also known as China Anniversary.
Aster grew from the tears of Alsteria, the goddess of the ‘starry sky’ who wept when no star appeared while looking down upon the earth.
25 – Iris: symbol of wisdom and precious friendship. Also known as Silver Jubilee.
Iris was named after Iris, goddess of the rainbow and messenger of the gods.
30 – Lily: symbol of purity and pure beauty. Also known as Pearl Anniversary.
Dedicated to the goddess Hera, the lily was an important flower in the ancient world. Lilies were carved on the walls of Solomon’s temple, which is mentioned repeatedly in the Bible and was a sacred flower for the Minoans. According to the legend, when Hera took the baby Hercules away from her, her mother’s milk spread to the sky and formed the Milky Way, but some drops fell to the earth and from it grew the first lilies.
40 – Gladiolus: symbol of character strength. Also known as Ruby Anniversary.
Swetes and Teres were two Thracian warriors who were ordered to fight each other in Rome’s Coliseum before becoming gladiators. The winner would marry the commander’s daughter – but they stuck their swords in the ground and refused to fight. The crowd was outraged and the pair were killed, but as soon as their bodies touched the ground, two gladioli grew from the handles of their swords.
50 – Violet: A symbol of humility, faithfulness and innocence. Also known as Golden Jubilee.
Napoleon’s Josephine wore a necklace of violets on their wedding day, and Napoleon sent her a posy of violets every year on their anniversary.
60 – Also known as the diamond anniversary.
There is no specific flower for a 60th anniversary, but some charming customs have emerged in recent years.
1. A bouquet of different types of white flowers, one for each year.
2. A gift of an appropriately named rose or other plant for the garden, such as the lavender rose ‘Diamond Wedding’ or the aptly named Agapanthus (meaning ‘love flower’ of the ‘double diamond’ variety in Greek).
3. Sometimes the gifts flow the other way, children gather their parents to buy a significant gift, while the happy couple gives plants to the children and grandchildren as a lasting memory of the occasion.
The 60th anniversary celebration became popular when Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. The word ‘diamond’ is derived from the Greek ‘adamas’ which means invincible and enduring. Many believe that the ‘fire’ in a diamond symbolizes the constant flame of love.
70 – A beautiful bouquet. Also known as platinum anniversary.
Not much has been written about this anniversary but it is set to become more common. Any and every flower is appropriate as a celebration of a special relationship that has stood the test of time, but perhaps the best idea is to go back to the symbolism of the wedding bouquet, perhaps repeating flowers that the bride carried long ago, or gift an orange flower that symbolizes eternal love.
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