Orchids are ancient flowers that have been enjoyed by many civilizations throughout history. Their significance has varied from culture to culture. Despite regional differences, their meaning and symbolism have always reflected their natural elegance and exoticism.
Ancient Greece and China: A Symbol of Vitality and Fertility
In both Ancient Greece and China, the orchid was seen as a symbol of vitality and fertility. The Chinese would give it as a gift that suggested many children, which was viewed as a blessing in ancient times. The Chinese also saw the orchid as a sign of innocence and refinement, although these were less prevalent than fertility.
The Greeks had a slightly more elaborate belief in connecting an orchid to fertility. They believed that if an unborn child’s father ate large (young) orchid tubers, then the child would be a boy. Alternatively, if the mother of the unborn child ate little tubers, the child was expected to be a girl.
Medieval Japan: A Trophy of Warriors
In Pre-Industrial Japan, Samurai would search for a specific type of orchid: Neofinetia falcata. Native to Japan, this vanda is rare -- especially in the wild. Prized for its foliage and fragrance, this orchid was more sought-after than most by Japan’s royalty. To please the nobles whom they served, Samurais would go on grand journeys in search of a Neofinetia falcata. If a Samurai found one and successfully brought it back, it’d be presented as a trophy of the warrior’s quest, a sign of his bravery.
Victorian England: A Sign of Luxury and Wealth
Orchids didn’t reach England until the Victorian era, and even then they were rare. They weren’t native to England, and transporting them across oceans was tenuous. Their delicacy made them uncommon, which only heightened interest in them.
They quickly became the flower of choice among gentry, not just because they were beautiful but also because they showed off one’s wealth. To own an Orchid in Victorian England was to indulge in luxury, something commoners could little afford to do.
Today: A Palette of Colors and Meanings
Today, orchids are available in more colors than ever before, and color is the primary determiner of an orchid’s meaning:
The orchid has a deep, rich history of meanings and symbols, but its message has never been as versatile as it is today. With so many colors to choose from, not to mention various varieties of orchids, you can find one that perfectly expresses your sentiments, whatever they may be.
For more about orchids and orchid care, visit EasyOrchidGrowing.com. Happy Blooming!