Floral Folklore The Meaning of Chrysanthemum from Flora Botanica Blog November Flower

Floral Folklore: The Meaning of Chrysanthemums


Chrysanthemums are the birth flower of November, so are a brilliant November birthday gift idea. Much-loved and shrouded in fascinating symbolism from East Asia to the West, chrysanthemums and chrysanthemum-themed gifts make a much more meaningful present than you'd ever imagine. 

3 Reasons to Love Chrysanthemums

Pink Chrysanthemum

1. Just as your garden flowers fade and the weather turns cold, chrysanthemums pop up in late summer and throughout autumn to cheer up your day.

2. Chrysanthemums come in a wide range of colours, bringing vibrancy to your flower borders – from shades of orange, red, pink and purple through to white, green and yellow. In fact, the name 'chrysanthemum' comes from the Ancient Greek for 'golden flower', because the flower was originally yellow.

3. There are thousands of varieties of chrysanthemums – from daisy-like disc-shaped blooms and cute pom-poms to large flower heads with rays of curling petals or spidery sprays. You're pretty much guaranteed to find a chrysanthemum you like. 
(image: Bruno Cervera)

But what about the secret symbolism behind chrysanthemums? Read on... 

Chrysanthemum Meanings in East Asia

Hokusai Chrysanthemums

The chrysanthemum flower has been the subject of art and literature for thousands of years. From Japanese artist Hokusai (image: Hokusai, Chrysanthemums and Bee) to Monet and Renoir, many have tried to capture its beauty.

It is thought to have first bloomed in China where it is one of the 'Four Noble Ones' – or the 'Four Gentlemen' – along with plum blossom, orchid and bamboo. These four plants have inspired a lot of paintings, porcelain and poems. They also represent the seasons, with chrysanthemums for autumn.

In Chinese culture, depending on their colour, chrysanthemums can symbolise longevity, wealth, vitality, good luck or joy. The yellow chrysanthemum is thought to be the luckiest colour of all and is linked to nobility.

Chinese Feng Shui experts even suggest placing chrysanthemum bouquets in specific places in your home to encourage good health, happiness and success.

In Japan, Chrysanthemums are precious too. They are known here as 'Kiku'. For centuries, the chrysanthemum has been the Emperor's family crest and the throne is known as The Chrysanthemum Throne. As a result, chrysanthemums are associated with nobility, but also longevity and happiness. Japan's National Chrysanthemum Day on September 9 is also called the Festival of Happiness.

Secret Chrysanthemum Symbolism in Victorian Floriography

Claude Monet Bed of Chrysanthemums Painting on Flora Botanica Store

In the Victorian language of flowers, the symbolism of chrysanthemums varied according to colour and sometimes depended on the whims of the author. (image: Claude Monet, Bed of Chrysanthemums)

However, here's our at-a-glance guide to the most commonly accepted chrysanthemum meanings: 

  • Chrysanthemums – Happiness, longevity, friendship
  • Red chrysanthemums – I love you 
  • White chrysanthemums – Truth or devoted love
  • Pink chrysanthemums – In love or cheerfulness
  • Yellow chrysanthemums – Slighted love

So a yellow chrysanthemum in East Asia means good luck, but in the West it meant unlucky in love for the recipient!

Flora Botanica's Interpretation of Chrysanthemum Flowers

November Birth Flower Wall Art Print Chrysanthemum Flora BotanicaWith so many varied meanings around the world and definitions for each flower colour, when we chose the Chrysanthemum meanings for our November birth flower art print, we opted for the three most widely agreed upon definitions.
  • Friendship
  • Longevity
  • Happiness

These also made the most sense to us. Friendship, because, in Victorian times, chrysanthemum bouquets were often gifted to friends. Longevity because chrysanthemums last longer than almost any other cut flower – sometimes up to 4 weeks! Happiness, because their bright, cheerful colours and explosion of petals have long been associated with joy.

And if you're going to give a birth month flower gift to a friend or family member, wouldn't you wish all three of these wonderful things for them?

To round up our love letter to these fabulous, frothy flowers, here are 10 fun facts about chrysanthemums - the flower that's equally admired East and West. 

10 Facts About Chrysanthemums

  1. Vintage Chrysanthemum Flower Art
    Chrysanthemums were originally grown as a herb and many believe they have medicinal properties. The leaves are edible and, in China, the petals are drunk in a calming tea, which is thought to treat fevers, colds, conjunctivitis and headaches. Here's an easy Chrysanthemum tea recipe for you to try.
  2. There's a Chinese folktale about a town of people who drank from a river filled with chrysanthemum petals and all lived to the ripe old age of 130!
  3. Chinese artists combine chrysanthemums with other symbols to gave their work auspicious meanings. For example, a chrysanthemum and plum blossom symbolises an easy life, while chrysanthemum with bamboo represents humility and appreciating the little things in life. (image: rawpixel)
  4. Chrysanthemums play an important role in the Chung Yeung (Double Ninth) Festival in China which takes place on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. The festival is inspired by a myth about a warrior who slayed a demon with a magical sword, after drinking chrysanthemum wine for protection. People drink chrysanthemum wine or tea during the celebration to honour his tale. 
  5. Across China, Japan and Korea, there are several chrysanthemum festivals. They showcase thousands of cultivars, as well as displaying chrysanthemum gardens and shrines, elaborate flower models and, in Kasama in Japan, mannequins dressed in mum kimonos!
  6. The Japanese are also pretty nifty at turning chrysanthemums into miniature bonsai displays
  7. The simple but beautifully designed Japanese passport has a golden chrysanthemum on the front. 
  8. In some countries, the chrysanthemum is associated with mourning and is the flower of choice to place on a grave.
  9. A NASA study found that pot chrysanthemums are one of the most effective plants at purifying the air in your home and removing pollutants.
  10. If you're looking for a November birthday gift that's extra-special, we can offer you personalised birth flower prints too – and personalisation is free!

Wishing you a November filled with flowers, friendship and happiness,

Flora B x

Flora Botanica Birth Flower Art Prints 



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