Flower Superstitions

Anemone

Sweet Flower! That peeping form thy russet stem
Unfoldest timidly, (for in a strange sort
This dark, frieze-coated, hoarse, teeth-chattering Month
Hath borrowed Zephyr's voice and gazed upon thee
With blue voluptuous eye) alas, poor Flower!

— Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Legends

Two Greek myths tell the origin of the anemone. Anemone was the name of a nymph that Zephyr, the god of the West Wind, was in love with. Flora, the goddess of flowers, became very jealous and turned Anemone into a flower. Another legend says that anemones came from Venus's tears when she was weeping for Adonis.

In Palestine the anemone was thought to have grown under the cross of Jesus.

Superstitions

Superstitions about the anemone existed in the Near East, Europe and Egypt. Believe it or not, in the Near East anemones were thought to actually carry diseases. In Europe it was a custom to hold your breath while running through a field of anemones. They believed that even the air around the anemone was poisonous. Later, the English used anemones as charms against disease. They were often worn around the neck or arm.

Carnations

Greeks and Romans.

Carnations, also known as pinks, were very important to the Greeks and Romans. They became the symbol for the Romans at their peak in civilization. Carnations were also called "Jove's flower" in Rome because Jove was one of their most admired gods. In ancient Greece they were the most adored flowers.

Legends

One legend about the carnation comes from Christians. The legend says that when Jesus was carrying the cross, Mary saw him and began to cry. Carnations began to grow where her tears fell.

Superstitions

Something I found very interesting is the superstition that pinks could tell fortunes. In Korea, a girl would place a cluster of three carnations in her hair. Her fortune was told by the order in which the flowers died. If the bottom flower died first, she would be miserable her entire life. However, if the top one died first, her last years would be very difficult. Her earlier years in life would be hard if the middle flower died first.

In Victorian language, the carnation is a good-luck gift to a woman.

Daisy

I'd choose to be a daisy
If I might be a flower
Closing my petals softly
At twilight's quiet hour
And waking in the morning
When fall the early dew
To welcome Heaven's bright sunshine
And Heaven's bright tear-drops too.

— Anonymous

Legends

An ancient Celtic legend tells of the creation of the daisy. In the legend, daisies came from the spirits of children who died at birth. To cheer up their parents, God sprinkled the flowers all over the earth. This legend could be the reason why daisies have the meaning of innocence.

Superstitions

I'm sure that at one time or another every girl has picked a flower and played the game "He loves me, he loves me not". Pulling the petals of daisies and repeating that phrase is a superstition that still exists today. Another superstition to tell a fortune that I have never heard of before is if a girl picks a group of daisies with her eyes shut, she will find out when she will marry. The number of flowers in the bunch is how many years she has until marriage. English milkmaids thought that placing daisy roots under her pillow would help her dream of love. There is also another superstition of daisies and dreams. If daisies were dreamed of in the spring, the person was supposed to have months of good luck. Dreams of daisies in the fall, however, would bring months of bad luck.

Day Lily

And the stately lilies stand
Fair in silvery light
Like saintly vestals, pale in prayer
Their pure breath sanctifies the air
As its fragrance fills the night.

— Anonymous

Superstitions

Day lilies were thought to cure sorrow by causing a loss of the memory. Also, according to a Chinese herbalist, they were thought to have the power to cause the birth of a son if they were "worn in the girdle of one's down during pregnancy".

Foxglove

The foxglove bells, with lolling tongue
Will not reveal what peals were rung
In Faery, in Faery
A thousand ages gone.
All the golden clappers hang
As if but now the changes rang;
Only from the mottled throat
Never any echoes float
Quite forgotten in the wood
Pale, crowded steeples rise.

— Mary Webb

Legends

The foxglove has much to do with fairies. It has several other names including fairy-caps, fairy-petticoats, and fairy-thimbles. According to legend, fairies used to give the blossoms of the flower to foxes to wear as gloves so the would not get caught raiding the chicken coop. It is very likely that the name foxglove came from this legend.

Superstitions

I found two superstitions about foxgloves, and yes, they both have to do with fairies also. Supposedly, if you picked a foxglove you would offend the fairies. If the fairies stole your baby, the juice of the foxglove would help you get it back.

Iris

Thou art the Iris, fair among the fairest
Who, armed with golden rod
And winged with the celestial azure, barest
The message of some God.

Thou art the Must, who far from crowded cities
Hauntest the sylvan streams
Playing on pipes of reed the artless ditties
That come to us as dreams.

O flower of song, boom on, and let the river
Linger to kiss thy feet!
O flower of song, bloom on, and make for ever
The world more fair and sweet.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Legends

This next piece of information is not exactly a legend, but I found it to be one of the neatest things I've read. The flower got its name from the Greek goddess Iris, who was the goddess of the rainbow. Iris would take messages from "the eye of Heaven" to the earth by the arc of the rainbow. This next part is my favorite. The word iris means "eye of heaven". It was the name given to the goddess, this flower, and the center of your eye. This means that each of us carries a piece of heaven with us.

Egyptian Story

This story dates back to the year 1479 B.C.E. To commemorate his victory in Syria, King Thutmose III had pictures of irises drawn on the walls of his temple.

Chrysanthemum

To love one maiden only, cleave to her,
And worship her by years of noble deeds,
Until they won her, for indeed I knew
Of no more subtle master under heaven
Than is the maiden passion for a maid,
Not only to keep down the base in man,
But teach high thought, and amiable words
And courtliness, and the desire of fame,
And love of truth, and all that makes a man.

— Alfred Lord Tennyson

This particular poem has no mention of a chrysanthemum in it. However, the three meanings of the chrysanthemum (I love, slighted love, and truth) are clearly spoken about in this piece of literature.

The Far East

Mums have been grown in the Far East for over two thousand years. The Japanese consider chrysanthemums as a sign of long life and happiness. Japan was so fond of the flower that the Emperor sat on the Chrysanthemum Throne. Mums were also part of nobility in ancient China. They were the favorite flowers of the noble class, and the common class was not allowed to grow chrysanthemums in their gardens.

Pansy

I send thee pansies, while the year is young,
Yellow as sunshine, purple as the night,
Flowers of remembrance, ever fondly sung
By all the chiefest of the sons of light;
And if in recollection lives regret
For wasted days and dreams that were not true,
I till thee that the pansy "freaked with jet"
Is still the heart's-ease that the poets knew.
Take all the sweetness of a gift unsought,
And for the pansies send me back a thought.

— Sarah Doudney

Superstitions

Pansies were supposed to have magical love powers. The Celts made tea from the pansies to use as a love potion. Also, because the petals of a pansy are heart-shaped, they were thought to cure a broken heart.

German Legends

One story tells of how the pansy lost its scent. At one time the pansy had a wonderful, strong scent. People came from miles around to smell this fragrant flower. By doing this, the people would destroy the grass around the pansies. The pansy prayed to God for help because the feed for the cattle was being trampled. God took the scent of the pansy away, but gave it great beauty instead.

Poppy

Poppies have been found in Egyptian tombs dating back 3,000 years. They were very important to several different cultures. Remember when Dorothy fell asleep in a field of flowers in the Wizard of Oz? Yes, you guessed it. Poppies.

Superstitions

Because they thought it would ease the pains of love, early Romans used poppies for witchcraft. The Greeks also used poppies as a love charm. Ancient Greeks thought that poppies were a sign of fertility. Poppy seeds were thought to bring health and strength so Greek athletes were given mixtures of poppy seeds, honey and wine.

Different Kinds of Poppies

Oriental poppies contain opium. The narcotic drug from this flower has been used for centuries. The corn poppy, however, does not contain opium. It is an emblem that commemorates those who died in wars.

Rose

If Jove would give the leafy bowers
A queen for all their world of flowers,
The rose would be the choice of Jove,
And blush the queen of every grove.
Sweetest child of weeping morning,
Gem, the breast of earth adorning,
Eye of flow'rets, glow of lawns,
Bud of beauty, nursed by dawns;
Soft the soul of love it breathes,
Cypria's brow with magic wreathes;
And to Zephyr's wild caresses,
Diffuses all its verdant tresses,
Till glowing with the wanton's play,
It blushes a diviner ray.

— Sappho of Lesbos 600 B.C.E

Legends

Many legends exist about the rose. In a Greek myth, the rose was created by the goddess of flowers, Chloris. She found the body of a lifeless nymph one day in the woods so she turned her into a flower. She called upon Aphrodite, goddess of love, and Dionysus, the god of wine. Aphrodite gave the flower beauty, and Dionysus added nectar to give her a sweet scent. Zephyr, the West Wind, blue away the clouds so Apollo, the sun god, could shine and make the flower bloom. The rose was then created and crowned "Queen of the Flowers". There are also several legends telling how the rose received its red color. The Romans thought that Venus blushed when Jupiter saw her bathing. The white rose turned red in her reflection. A Greek myth says that when Aphrodite rushed to save Adonis (she was in love with him) form a wild boar, she scratched herself on a white rose bush. Adonis was severely injured, and because the roses were sympathetic to both Adonis and Aphrodite, red roses appeared where their blood had touched the ground. A Christian story tells us that the Virgin Mary put her veil to dry on a red rose bush, and the rose blush then produced pure white flowers.

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