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A Look Back: Meanings behind Valentine’s Day gifts

02-08-look-back

By Jolene Hawkins

Looking back on Valentine’s Day in the past where you would give candy or cards and, of course, the flowers were always high on the list for presents.

Even Jud Strunk — who was a local boy and had a successful carrier as a singer — had a smash hit called “I’ll give you a Daisy a Day.” Throughout the years we have had florist shops and greenhouses that were well known.

Bement Flower shop opened on Jan. 15, 1949, carried a large variety of flowers and arrangements. In the 1950s, Eileen’s Greenhouse and flower shop was in full swing.

In 1973, the Heritage Shop was in full swing located on Main Street. Pete Schneider opened the shop in December of 1964 on a prayer and a shoestring, as he used to like to say. He graduated from Griffith Schools in 1959 and attended the Canadian School of Floral Arts.

Pete worked at Eileen’s Greenhouse during high school. He worked at his heritage flower shop at night while holding down a job at Fisher-Price Toys during the day. He married Joan Heim and together they ran the shop. When three children came, the cribs were in the back of the shop, making it truly a family affair.

Peter was a member of the Springville Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Boston Hills Rifle and Pistol club. A member of the Florists Transworld Delivery for three years, serving on the Western New York Board of Directors of F.T.D. as well. When not arranging flowers, he enjoyed golf and bowling and has a greenhouse behind his home where he also raises orchids and other rare tropical flowers and plants.

Many flowers traditionally symbolized feelings or moods, even ideas. The orange blossom, for example, means chastity, purity and loveliness. The colors would mean something as well. Pink meant “I will never forget you.” Red, “My heart aches for you,” Purple conveyed capriciousness, white was for the sweet and lovely and yellow expressed romantic rejection.

Learning about the special symbolism of flowers became a popular pastime during the 1800s.  Most of the Victorian homes had guidebooks for deciphering the “language.” There was even a method for talking with your handheld fan.

Depending on how you handed a flower, it could convey an answer of yes or no. If flowers were presented tied with a ribbon tied around them and presented could mean something as well, depending on the color of the ribbon. I personally would definitely need a book to decipher all of it!

Roses seem to be given often. The red rose symbolizes love and desire. Each color of a rose has its own meaning. White rose is purity and innocence, reverence, a new beginning and a fresh start. A deep dark crimson rose represents mourning. A pink rose, grace, happiness and gentleness.

Yellow roses are one of my favorites, and they represent joy, friendship and the promise of a new beginning. Orange was meant for desire and enthusiasm. And lavender rose? Why love at first sight! And the coral rose, friendship, modesty and sympathy.

Giving a mixed bouquet? Each flower has their own meaning as well. Aster was for the symbol of love, daintiness; a Black-eyed Susan represented justice. Sweet bluebell, humility and kindness. Chrysanthemums were for cheerfulness. Daisies were innocence and hope.

Forget-me-nots, why true love memories. Gardenias, another one I like, a secret love. Honeysuckle, bonds of love. Throw in a little mint which stood for virtue. A huge sunflower would be awesome, it meant adoration. Tulips were for passion and a declaration of love.

Can’t leave out the herbs. Basil for good wishes, bay for glory, chives for usefulness. Dill represents powerful, good for against evil. Horehound was for health. Lemon balm for sympathy. Marjoram for joy and happiness. Oregano was for substance and parsley was festivity.

Rosemary for remembrance, sage was wisdom and immortality. Tarragon meant lasting interest; thyme, for courage strength; and Yarrow, every lasting love.

So whether you are ordering flowers from one of our local florists, creating your own arrangements or planning a garden, have fun with creating something special and make it have a special meaning for your loved one.

You can learn more by coming down to the Lucy Bensley Center on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and read our local newspapers regarding all of the wonderful shops that we had and have in our little town.  Email us at lucybensleycenter@gmail.com or call us at 592-0094.

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