With Valentine’s Day approaching, it seems a good time to examine some of the symbolic uses of lavender, and what lavender has often been thought to mean.
As far back as Roman times lavender was highly prized for its use in the bath houses to fragrance and purify the bathing waters (it is believed that it was the Romans who first introduced Lavender to Britain), and in fact lavender’s botanical name ‘Lavendula’ comes from the Latin ‘to wash’. Historically, lavender was also said to have been one of the favourite flowers of the Virgin Mary, with some Churches still being decorated with springs of lavender on St Barnabus’ Day (11th June), as in ancient times lavender was associated with the characteristics of purity, devotion and virtue.
This connection of lavender to the virtues of purity and devotion were further expanded in Victorian times, when the fashion for floriography flourished. The language of flowers, sometimes called floriography, was the intricate use of flowers to convey messages. Each flower embodied a different emotion or characteristic which could then be used to communicate messages between the bearer and the recipient, allowing individuals to express feelings which could otherwise not be spoken.
By the 19th century, the addition of lavender to a bouquet would represent deep feelings of devotion, constancy, purity, ardent attachment, luck and good will. As such newly married couples would be given posies of lavender to bring them good luck in their married lives, and dried lavender flowers would be sprinkled on the marital bed to cleanse and purify it, whilst the addition of lavender to the rest of the home was said to bring peacefulness. There is also a tradition of placing sprgs of lavender in the hands of women in labour, as squeezing the fragrant bundles was said to give them strength and courage during childbirth.
Further to this there is also a tradition of interpreting dreams involving lavender to symbolize happiness, success and joy. For example in Arabian cultures, to see lavender flowers or smell them in dream is taken to mean that you will have happiness in love, and that you will be able to forget bitter events of the past. Whereas traditional European dream interpreters believe that to see or smell lavender in a dream means that the time is opportune to achieve success. And finally in Hindu cultures, to dream of lavender symbolises that you should not be fearful for your happiness, as it will not leave you.
So maybe this Valentine’s Day why not think about adding a sprig or two of lavender to your traditional bunch of red roses?
Visit our online shop for Lavender Valentine Gift ideas here