Flowers have long been a part of cultural celebrations and symbolism. Like culinary dishes, music tastes, and traditions, flowers are often interpreted and gifted in different ways around the globe.
It’s important to know what is appropriate when attending a cultural celebration or sending a gift to a friend from a different background. Here are the most appropriate flowers to honor different religious and cultural celebrations.
Easter and Christmas
When looking at popular holiday flowers, Easter and Christmas come up often. These major Christian holidays are known for floral decor, representative of their pre-Christian origins.
Easter is closely aligned with the spring equinox and symbolizes a time of rebirth, redemption, and purity. The flower most closely associated with Easter is the white lily, which represents life, purity, forgiveness, and fresh starts. Lilies show up throughout the bible, with gift-givers bestowing lilies on the Virgin Mary and lilies growing where Jesus’s tears fell after being betrayed by Judas.
Tulips are also an excellent Easter gift thanks to their association with spring. Shades of purple, pink, and yellow are reminiscent of dyed eggs and pair well with white blooms.
White lilies also work at Christmas, but red blooms are also symbolic of the holiday. The red poinsettia is a traditional Christmas flower. While red roses are often associated with romance, they make a fitting bouquet at Christmas. Many South American countries also incorporate native proteas into their celebratory wreaths and bouquets.
Communions and Baptisms
Baptisms and first communion celebrations also use the same symbols of purity as Easter. You can’t go wrong with white flowers, particularly roses, carnations, and baby’s breath. You can also include pastel pinks and blues as accent flowers.
Quinceañeras are a coming-of-age celebration in Hispanic cultures. A Quinceañera takes place on a girl’s 15th birthday and symbolizes her becoming a woman. It’s a joyous occasion marked by a big party and fancy attire.
Roses are the traditional flower for Quinceañeras, particularly in shades of pink, white, and other pastels. Opt for flowers with delicate petals and stems, like sweetpeas and daisies. Grandparents traditionally give the Quinceañera 15 roses, so avoid awkward mishaps by opting for a different arrangement.
Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs
Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs are coming-of-age celebrations in the Jewish faith for boys and girls, respectively. This celebration takes place at age 13 and symbolizes growing up and becoming an active member of Judaism. It’s a huge celebration that also comes with a theme.
While it’s best practice to give a floral gift that suits the named theme, there are a few flowers that work as defaults. For a Bat Mitzvah, pink or orange roses are a staple as they represent beauty and joy. White and pink lilies represent love and purity. Soft shades of green for accent blooms and filler are also suitable.
For a Bar Mitzvah, choose darker shades of roses or stick with pure white. Adding blue accents, like hydrangeas, is also a nice touch. Avoid shades of pink and red, and opt for arrangements with unique greenery, like succulents or eucalyptus.
Flowers are prominent in Hindu celebrations, often with bright, joyous colors to set the tone for the event.
Diwali is the Hindu and Sikh festival of lights and represents triumph over evil (light over darkness). Naturally, such an occasion is marked by flowers that embody that sense of victory. Yellow, orange, and red blooms are a must for Diwali celebrations and gifts. Gerberas, carnations, and roses are the most common, but sunflowers also make a great gift.
Navaratri is a celebration that lasts nine nights and pays homage to the Devi. Flowers play a central role in this celebration, with a different bloom representing each day:
Gifting a bouquet featuring these blooms is a lovely way to note the holiday for someone who celebrates. Orchids are also a notable bloom in Hindu culture if you’re looking for a simple, meaningful gift.
Kwanzaa is an African American cultural celebration spanning from December 26th to January 1st. This holiday is meant to celebrate the importance of family and community and is centered around culture rather than religion.
Red and green are the symbolic colors for Kwanzaa and represent the candles in the Kinara. The Kinara holds three red candles three green candles, and one black candle centered as an homage to the Pan-African flag and the seven Nguzo Saba principles: unity, self-determination, collective work, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
Yellow blooms are also welcome to represent the light on each candle. Putting together an arrangement of yellow and red roses or protea with greenery is a lovely gesture for celebrating this holiday. Bringing it together with a black ribbon or vase is also a nice gesture.
Ramadan and Eid
Giving flowers to a Muslim friend is a thoughtful way to mark the holidays in their culture. Ramadan is a holy month that includes fasting, atonement, and self-reflection. It’s a spiritual time that encourages the people of Islam to practice self-restraint and reconnect with their faith.
The month of Ramadan ends with Eid— a festival that celebrates breaking the month-long fasting period. Eid is one of the most significant holidays in the Muslim faith. As Ramadan aligns with the crescent moon, presenting a crescent-shaped arrangement would be appropriate for this holiday.
Opt for brightly colored flowers that represent luck, good fortune, friendship, and love. Peonies are a notable bloom for Eid, as they embody lifelong prosperity.
International Women’s Day
While International Women’s Day is celebrated worldwide, it’s a notable cultural celebration in Eastern Europe. Everyone gives flowers to women on this day, from sons to grocers serving female patrons. Giving a single tulip is a lovely gesture for this celebration, but sons and husbands should consider a bouquet. If giving a bouquet, be sure to follow Eastern European customs and traditions. Even stems are considered unlucky as they’re typically featured in funerals, as is the number 13. Yellow flowers— a symbol of friendship in North America— represent the end of a relationship in parts of Europe.