Updated: May 7
Flowers have been around since life as we know it, and their history is as colorful as their petals. From ancient Egypt to ancient Greece, flowers were significantly used for religious and medicinal purposes. It was not until the Renaissance era through the Victorian era that flowers were recognized as symbols of politics and fashion. Check out a short history of flowers. - OXO
(Nefertem Egyptian Art)
The Egyptians adored flowers based on the evidence from paintings, sculptures, and scriptures. With the many varieties of flowers available along the Mediterranean Sea, the lotus (Nymphaea) reigned supreme within the Egyptian heritage for thousands of years. In detail, the lotus was often used for festive garlands, sacred wreaths, floral headdresses, and critical ingredients for healing potions. Whether florals were used for health and medicinal purposes or for rituals and religion, flowers served as an essential staple for the Egyptian culture.
Ancient Greece and Rome
The adoration of flowers can also be cited across the Mediterranean Sea in Greece and Rome. Ancient Greeks and Romans utilized florals for artistic and religious expression like ancient Egyptians. Floral artistry and religious symbols with flowers can be found in temples and vase paintings and Goddess sculptures. Amongst the many creative words of floral design concerning the garland, the cornucopia became a symbol for the Greeks for centuries. The subtle combination of fruits and vegetables piled into baskets with flowers and wreaths twisting and spilling over the table, welcoming guests to indulge in the opulent festivities. This stylized combination influenced the popularized custom for flower arrangements within the Roman culture. The earliest depiction of the lifestyle use of styled flower arrangements dates back to the Roman emperor Hadrian in the early 2nd century CE. Nonetheless, flowers, especially garlands and classic floral arrangements, were popularized by the Greeks and Romans.
Middle Ages and The Renaissance
Flowers were synonymous with religion and romance from the 12th and 13th century. For instance, the English Rose symbolized virtue and virginity within the church institution. The same English Rose represented passionate love and union between nobility and royalty within the court. Referencing the English history of the War of the Roses, dating approximately 1455-1485, each opposing noble family proudly represented a rose for their family crest, one white and one red. This generational struggle later resulted in the consolidated creation of the famous family crest of Henry VIII Tudor (1491-1547). Two opposing roses combined into one rose to symbolize unity and prosperity. During the Renaissance period, the 15th and 16th centuries, garlands and floral head crowns became a popular fashion and décor for local pageants and feasts. During this time, flowers were utilized less for medicinal purposes and more for political and religious symbolism.
(Jan Davidsz de Heem, Flemish Baroque Painting. 1645)