Wednesday, December 3, 2008

When Flowers Speak Japanese

The Japanese have long attached meanings to different flowers, as a way to express feelings that could not otherwise be spoken. Japanese greeting cards still follow the traditional language and symbolism of individual flowers, called Hanakotobu. It is a frequent theme in anime. The symbolic use of flowers and their language dates back to ancient times and is precise enough to have nuances amongst different colors of the same flower. For instance, among camellias, white signifies waiting, while yellow stands for longing and red means in love. The daffodil represents respect and the dahlia good taste, while the daisy symbolizes faith and the hibiscus gentleness.

Western Victorians also had a language of flowers and those flower meanings are remarkably similar to Hanakotobu. The advertising slogan "Say It With Flowers" takes on a whole new meaning when one has the language of flowers in mind.

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