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The meaning of flowers in Russia

  • The meaning of flowers in Russia

    by Market Insider

    Monday, 18 Aug. 2014

    One need only visit a Russian school on the 1st of September to understand the sheer impact that gift, and more importantly flower-giving, has in Russia. Hundreds of schoolchildren stand around waiting for the first bell of the year, all with bouquets the size of an umbrella gripped tightly in their little hands.

    They're doing this because it is a tradition, and their elder siblings, parents and grandparents all went through the same ritual for many years before them. Gift and flower-giving in Russia has an incredibly deep meaning to it on account of the many years that this tradition has lived in the Russian spirit and mind.

    And this tradition is by no means limited to the first day of school, or even major Russian holidays. As far as Russia goes - there is never a wrong occasion to give flowers. Friends, who have not seen each other in several months, or even weeks, might choose to give flowers to each other upon their next meeting. A man will often give flowers and chocolates to a lady at the start of their date, just like a husband might decide to pop into a flower shop on his way back from work every now and then to surprise his wife with a floral arrangement.

    Russia is well prepared for such spontaneous bouts of affection. Flower shops and stalls by the hundreds litter the streets, offering a wide range of bouquets and arrangements for every taste and occasion.

    It might be difficult for a stranger to the Russian culture to understand why flowers and bouquet-giving is such an important aspect, and why it is so deeply engraved into the Russian mentality, however, one must understand that together with being a tradition, the act of giving flowers is highly symbolic.

    For example, should you ever choose to send a bouquet composed of only one type of flower (most commonly a composition of roses), you must take special care to send only an odd number. Any odd number (be it 1 or 1001) represents a happy occasion, while even numbers should be reserved for funerals and sympathy arrangements. This way, it is actually better to send a woman in Russia 13 roses, than to send 12!

    Another important aspect is the color. Red is considered the most classic choice, as it is suitable for any occasion. If you are uncertain of a lady's feelings towards you, or are currently in a strained phase of your relationship, it might be better to send pink or yellow flowers instead.

    As far as bouquets of mixed flowers go, there are no strict rules to their arrangement. Though the act of giving flowers is a big one in Russia, most recipients would be content with the giver's kind gesture, and will not read too deeply into what a mixed bouquet contains.

    When it comes to occasions, the first thing to keep in mind is that Christmas is not as widely celebrated in Russia as it is in other countries. New Year's, on the other hand, is seen as one of the more important days of the year, and is one when Russians are most likely to give each other gifts and bouquets.

    The most important day in gift and flower-giving in Russia is undoubtedly the 8th of March. This holiday is most fervently celebrated, and its citizens spare no expenses when it comes to the gifts and flowers. It is International Woman's Day!

    During this day, even people who do not ordinarily purchase flowers and gifts would buy an arrangement for every female they know. Men will give their loved ones gifts, but would also remember to give her female relatives (mother, sisters, aunts) a bouquet too. People even buy flowers for their female friends outside Russia.
    It can be said that this tradition of giving has been isolated to grow in Russian customs for some time because of a lack of connectivity with the rest of the world, though in the past 15 years, this isolation has given way to a boom in communication and co-operation.

    Sources: whererussia.com

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