A picture may say a thousand words, but what about a flower? Last week in Singapore, while the world leaders convened to discuss politics, global climate change, and humanitarian efforts at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, volunteers took to the streets to hand out 45,000 long-stemmed gerber daisies (photo to the left). The daisies were meant to symbolize the ideal of personal kindness, something Singapore’s leaders feel is in short supply.
Using flowers as an expression of a word or ideal is nothing new. Red poppies are still used to symbolize remembrance for the victims of WWI, and in Victorian times, flowers symbolized everything from love to hate to death. The fact that we still give flowers as a sign of affection is just one hint of such history.
Can flowers substitute for words? In the Singapore kindness campaign, the answer is yes. Even though some people were wary of the free flower, others happily accepted one, and, hopefully (or at least as the Singapore Kindness Movement is hoping) realized the meaning behind it — random acts of kindness, giving freely to others.
In case you’re planning to mix a bouquet with a specific meaning for someone near or dear to you (or, an enemy), here are a few of my favorite flower meanings (of which most of my favorite flowers mean something awful — hydrangea signifies heartlessness? I suppose I am pretty heartless…):
Meaning: Everlasting friendship
Meaning: Devotion and Distrust
Meaning: Lust, Fornication
Meaning: Long life