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Floriography, the language of flowers, has been a part of social custom for centuries. For more information about floriography in general, and the meanings of some popular flowers, see belowe.

The origin of the language of flowers pre-dates Victorian times, as flowers have always had religious, mythological and symbolic meanings. Mme. Charlotte de la Tour penned the first flower dictionary in 1819 in Paris. Entitled Le Language des Fleurs, it was an overnight sensation. This little handbook became a favorite reference on the subject. The new floral language appealed to the Romantic poets in England. "Sweet flowers alone can say what passion fears revealing," noted the poet Thomas Hood (1799-1485) in his poem "The Language of Flowers." A Victorian lady, Miss Corruthers of Inverness, wrote an entire book on the subject in 1879. Her book became the standard source for flower symbolism both in England and the United States.

Victorian women elaborated on floriography (the assigning of meanings to flowers), expressing their feelings within the boundaries of a strict etiquette. Flowers afforded them a silent language that allowed them to communicate many sentiments that the propriety of the times would not normally allow. This practice was especially popular amongst lovers. Also, anything that carried the scent of a particular plant, like a handkerchief, carried the same message.

The way the flowers were worn or presented, the color of the flower, and of course the flower itself all had to do with the particular message that was trying to be conveyed. If the flowers were presented upright, they had a positive meaning. However, if they were presented upside down, their meaning was the opposite. If the ribbon was tied to the left, the meaning referred to the giver; the right referred to the recipient. Flowers were used to answer questions also. If they were handed over with the right hand, the answer was "yes"; with the left hand, "no".






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