Traditions of flower gifting in different cultures
Flowers are probably the most versatile gifts on the Earth. You can send them to congratulate someone on a holiday, to say ‘I’m sorry’ or just because.
If we go back in time, we will find out that flowers played even a more important role in certain historical periods. Curiously, the 17th century in Holland was marked by tulip mania — a period when the prices for tulips, recently imported to the country from the Ottoman Empire, were simply exorbitant. New and popular blooms were so valuable that the Dutch riches readily sold their real estate in order to buy just a few bulbs.
In Victorian England, it was socially unacceptable to express romantic feelings in public. Therefore, a secret love code was created in order to show intimacy and other emotions through flowers. For instance, according to the Victorian floral code, giving forget-me-nots signified true love, while striped carnations were used to show your refusal.
With the advent of new technologies, it became possible to order flower delivery anywhere in the world. Although, it is crucial to study the customs of flower gifting in different cultures to convey the exact meanings with your blooms.
Let’s see what different flowers mean across the world and learn basic rules of flower gifting in these countries.
The majority of European countries are known for the tradition of choosing an odd number of flowers in a bouquet. This rule of thumb, however, does not apply to the number 13, as it is typically believed to be a bad omen. Nevertheless, each country has its own customs when it comes to selecting a bouquet for a particular occasion.
Unlike in so many cultures in the world where white flowers are considered a metaphor for love, in Germany white lilies and roses are commonly given at funeral ceremonies for condolences. To remind your loved one of your romantic feelings, choose a bouquet of red roses.
A similar situation is observed in France — you should never give chrysanthemums (most importantly white ones!), as they are widely used as tomb decorations. Yellow flowers are also not the best choice, because they signify infidelity. Tulips, orchids and red roses are perfectly suited for expressing romance.
In Bulgaria, it is also customary to give flowers in odd numbers. Even numbers of blooms are typical for funerals. For example, a small bouquet of 2 or 4 flowers can be left on a casket to accompany the departed on their last journey.
The Russians believe that flowers are a perfect gift practically for any occasion. The odd number principle is also applied here. In addition, similar to France, yellow flowers (tulips, more particularly) hint at a separation with a loved one. Red roses are also a popular choice there, as well as tulips in springtime.
It is an essential part of etiquette to buy a little something for the host when you visit friends or relatives in Turkey. An elegant orchid would be a wonderful gift in this case. Tulips are Turkish national flowers, and they can communicate the ideas of purity and love (in case they are red).
Each country in Asia has its own rules when it comes to choosing flowers as a gift. The most basic rule, however, concerns yellow and white chrysanthemums. They are closely connected to the concept of death, so they are typically sent to the relatives of the departed.
The most popular options for flower gifting in China include lilies, orchids, and peonies. Interestingly, you should never give a bouquet of four roses to a Chinese person, as number 4 is associated with death in their culture.
In Japan, bright red flowers, such as roses and gerberas, symbolize passionate love and positivity. White lilies are one of the best choices for conveying the idea of purity, and tulips signify thoughtfulness.
In case you are looking for a perfect floral gift for an Indian person, you can never go wrong with some bright and colorful flowers, for example, yellow or red roses. An exception here is frangipani, which is commonly used at funeral ceremonies.
Singapore is characterized by the coexistence of several cultures, and it applies to flower gifting customs as well. White lily is one of the most beloved flowers in the country. They are suited both for funeral ceremonies and marriages, as they are connected in the national psyche with the concepts of rebirth and virtue.
In Africa, a bouquet is a typical gift for Christmas. For some African peoples, sending flowers for no particular reason is not common, but if you do that, no one would mind, but quite the opposite.
Ghana is one of those countries where there are no strict rules on which flowers you should and shouldn’t choose as a present. No one would expect you to show up at a family gathering with a bouquet, but if you do, it will be a nice surprise.
The Egyptians believe that flowers should be given only as “get well soon” gifts or at weddings. They are also accepted at funerals as an opportunity to express your condolences. In any other cases avoid sending flowers.
North America is known for the relaxed attitude towards flower gifting. There are no strict rules of which flowers you should and shouldn’t give and when you should do it.
The most popular occasions for giving flowers in the US are birthdays, weddings, and such holidays as Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. The nation’s favorite flower is probably the rose, as each color has its own meaning. For example, yellow roses signify cordial relations, and red roses are ideal for showing your romantic feelings.
Similarly to the United States, red roses, along with daisies, are popular for expressing your love toward someone special on Valentine's Day. White flowers (usually lilies and chrysanthemums) are associated with funerals, so you should refrain from sending them on another occasion.
Flower gifting is a very important part of life for the peoples of Latin America. Not only is it advisable to give flowers on special occasions and holidays, but you should also bring a bouquet to a dinner party or a date.
In Mexico, you may be perceived as an impolite person if you show up at a business gathering without a gift. As a bouquet is the most versatile gift virtually in any country, you could never go wrong with a floral arrangement to make a good impression.
Black and purple are the colors strongly connected to death for Brazilians, so it is not advisable to purchase flowers of these colors for a date or, for example, Mother’s Day. The most beloved flowers for expressing passionate love are roses. The national flower is the gorgeous Corsage Orchid.
White and purple blooms are also taboo here. You should also avoid number 13, as it is believed to bring bad luck. Apart from that, there are no strict rules. Just don’t attend any formal meetings or parties without bringing a gift, that’s just bad manners.
All things considered, it is needless to say that flowers take a special place in our life, no matter where you live. They are beautiful, fragrant, and always bring joy both to the sender and the recipient. Moreover, different blooms express different feelings depending on their color and variety, so you always have a chance to encode a special message with your bouquet.
It is wonderful that nowadays we have an opportunity to send flowers to our dear ones who live halfway across the world through such services as MyGlobalFlowers. However, it is crucial to remember about the differences in flower gifting practices around the world, namely the preferred number of flowers in a bouquet and which varieties are accepted for different occasions. Only this way can we communicate our ideas accurately and, therefore, make our cross-cultural interaction successful.