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CULTURAL FACTORS REGARDING FLOWERS
What are the cultural factors regarding bouquets, corsages, leis, the funeral wreath, and the fifty state flowers? We are going to be doing some fun reading on this one!
A bouquet is a group of flowers, arranged nicely, used for a gift to somebody you like, or to decorate a room. We give flowers to say "Thank you," or "Welcome," or "Congratulations," or "I love you," or "Get well soon," or just any nice thing we want to say. We're going to have to read about bouquets, because these reasons for giving flowers may have all been the ideas of people who sell bouquets! This is an ecology class, not economy; and it doesn't matter to us, in this study, whether or not florists make money.
The lei is a garland, or "rope" of flowers, that is given to a guest of the Hawaiian Islands. It is to say, "Welcome," (pronounced "aloha!"). What was the purpose of the lei before this? Did the Polynesians wear a lei to ward off evil spirits? We'll have to look for information.
I have read that the reason people give flowers at funerals was originally that there was no way of preserving the body, and by the time the family could get together for the funeral, the body did not smell good. Lots of sweet-smelling flowers could cover the odor of the body. Is that true?
When people go "out" together, like to a formal dance, or a tea, it is fashionable to wear a corsage, which is a small bunch of flowers worn pinned to one's dress, or fastened to one's wrist. Sometimes men wear a single flower on the lapel of their suit coat. This type of corsage is called a boutonniere, because it is worn in a button hole.
Wouldn't it be gross if we learned that having flowers around the house, and wearing flowers was a way of covering up the fact that people didn't bathe very often?
In addition to these uses for flowers, each state in our country has named an Official State Flower. I don't know if that is because a particular flower grows very well in the state that has adopted it, or if there is another reason. There are many things we have to find out about for this project. Regardless of the reasons for giving, wearing, and having flowers, almost everybody likes flowers. Almost everybody is happy to receive a gift of flowers, and many of us enjoy growing them in our yards. They are pretty to look at, and most of them smell very nice. Flowers are fun!
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