Pretty petals are worth a thousand words – and emotions!
Shane Connolly is a London florist whose work was on the world stage when he designed Kate Middleton’s wedding bouquet. When planning his client’s arrangements, he suggests using flowers that carry special significance because the unique meaning of that type of flower will translate an “extra dimension of thoughtfulness to an arrangement”. With that expert knowledge along with the psychological studies below, it’s no wonder the gift of flowers has not gone out of style.
Professor of psychology and researcher, Jeannette Haviland-Jones, performed double-blind studies in 2005 where her team distributed 3 types of gifts, one being a floral bouquet, to measure the response types of their subjects. In every case, the flower recipients had the Duchenne smile – a genuine, heartfelt smile involving the mouth, cheeks, and eyes. The response was not consistent with the other types of gifts. Amazingly, the subjects who received flowers had contained happiness three days later in comparison to their study cohorts.
Rutgers Magazine: Why would something that merely makes us feel good, like flowers, afford an evolutionary edge?
Jeannette Haviland-Jones: Somebody asked me, “Are you saying that flowers are the pets of the plant world?” And that’s probably true: flowers, like pets, help reduce stress. And, thanks to the new field of positive psychology, there’s more evidence that positive emotion is healing and enhances reproductive fitness.
Rutgers Magazine: What is it about flowers that makes us so happy?
Jeannette Haviland-Jones: One of the original theories, from [biologist and environmentalist] E.O. Wilson, was that flowers were a marker for fruit, and that’s why people liked them. But people actually don’t prefer the flowers that lead to fruit, so it seems like a weak argument. It may be that plants use a number of roads. One could be odor, which I think is particularly likely. Color is another good possibility. And there is some research showing that we’re drawn to symmetrical shapes and patterns. Not all flowers are symmetrical, but most are.
The History of Giving Flowers
- In the 1700’s, The French and English discover Floriography (the language of flowers) in Turkey.
- Ancient Greeks gifted floral offerings to temples which over time developed into giving flowers to earthly goddesses and women.
- In Ancient Egypt, Egyptians would give flowers as gifts to lovers and gods to show their adoration. The lotus became a common symbol of Egyptian spirituality and art.
- Victorians gave flowers to express their feelings depending on each flower’s characteristics and meanings. Victorians were knowledgeable of the language of flowers and have written books on floral arrangements which can still be read today!
- In present day, the flower industry is worth about $18 billion globally. From large-scale events, to local floral shops ran by big-dreamer entrepreneurs, to hospital deliveries, the positive impact of flowers has remained the same in a blooming industry.
In closing, we find that sending flowers is not just a pretty tradition, but a meaningful and unforgettable way to connect with one another.