Victorian-Era Etiquette Included Sending Secret Messages with Flowers

You’ll never guess what oleander signifies.

The Victorian era – which emerged during the reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901 – was a time of buttoned-up fashions and rigid social rules, though people still found ways to express themselves. One way was through the language of flowers, also known as floriography, which predates the Victorian period but became popular throughout the course of the 19th century. This “language” assigned meanings to blooms and allowed people to use flowers to send messages without putting their feelings in writing or speaking them aloud – an ideal strategy considering the famously restrained social mores of the era.

The practice of sending coded botanical messages was once so popular that publishers produced floral dictionaries to aid in referencing all manner of flowers and their meanings. According to Smithsonian Gardens, “Nearly all Victorian homes would own at least one of the guide books dedicated to the ‘language of flowers.’ The authors of these guidebooks used visual and verbal analogies, religious and literary sources, folkloric connections, and botanical attributes to derive the various associations for the flowers.”…[READ MORE]

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