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The Meaning & Symbolism of Mums

Man holding a bouquet of mum flowers for entertaining

Fall is a wonderful time of year to introduce some new flowers to your home. Among the season’s most popular are chrysanthemums. Lovingly referred to as the queen of the fall flowers, the “mum” is symbolic for so many reasons. Mums symbolize joy, life, friendship, luck, and rebirth.

Part of its beauty is its resilience in the face of a sudden drop in temperatures. There’s something almost magical about a flower that brims with color and livens up the landscape when skies are decidedly darker and the air considerably cooler. Fall’s queen earns its nickname for good reason! While other flowers lose their luster at this time of year, the mum is only just coming into her own.

Mums make beautiful additions to festive bouquets, add eye-catching detail to fall tablescapes, liven up the porch, brighten up flower beds, and bring a little color to stacks of hay. You can also use them around the house to make any space look a little more cheerful. There are few flowers more versatile than this cool-weather accent. Here’s a look at what makes it so noteworthy.

Why Chrysanthemums Are Popular

  1. History of Chrysanthemums
  2. Symbolism of Chrysanthemums
  3. Chrysanthemum Color Meanings
  4. When To Give Chrysanthemums

History of Chrysanthemums

The earliest known cultivation of the chrysanthemum is in 15th-century China. From the start, the flower was identified as something that brought cheer and good tidings to anyone who encountered it. “If you would be happy for a lifetime, grow chrysanthemums,” a Chinese philosopher reportedly advised.

It was a sensible message that spoke to the sheer usefulness of the flower. Back then, it was largely prized for its culinary usefulness. The shoots and petals were often used to add robustness to salads and other dishes. Leaves and flowers, meanwhile, were brewed for tea.

As a core component of Chinese medicine, mums were used to treat everything from inflammation to respiratory concerns to high blood pressure. Due to its calming properties, it was also thought to alleviate frayed nerves. So strong was the belief in the flower for its healing value that the Chinese people gave it the nickname “chu” and named a city Chu-Hsien in its honor.

Before long, people in Japan had adopted the mum in their own culture. They were inspired by its relevance and importance in China — so much so that they gave “kiku,” as they called it, royal recognition. It was used as the emperor’s official seal and crest, and The Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, the highest order bestowed in Japan, was awarded to the select few who served the country in battle.

National Chrysanthemum Day is celebrated annually in Japan. Also known as the Festival of Happiness, the occasion honors the beauty, nobility, and strength of the flower. It also recognizes the many important traits that it symbolizes — and its ability to resonate with people all over the world on such a deep level.

The mum was so important to the Japanese people that Buddhist monks there eventually adopted it as their own. They viewed it as an example of flawless beauty thanks to the meticulous order of its petals. To them, it mirrored the sheer perfection of the sun and stood as a symbol of longevity. By the 17th century, the chrysanthemum had made its way to Europe and America. People throughout the western world revered the flower for its beauty and meaning.

Symbolism of Chrysanthemums

The chrysanthemum’s popularity grew rapidly throughout the world — and maybe that’s why it’s no surprise that in different cultures and communities, it has different meanings. As the November birth flower, it’s often thought of as the flower of joy, life, luck, friendship, and rebirth.

As history denotes, Chinese culture reveres the flower even in the 21st century. It’s a key part of joyous celebrations because it’s thought to bring blessings, good fortune, and longevity. It’s a must for occasions like birthdays, baby showers, new births, promotions, graduations, and retirements. It’s a thoughtful gift to give to anyone from new parents to grandparents.

Even its name inspires its meaning in some areas. Because of its “mum” nickname, the chrysanthemum has been anointed as the official flower to give on Mother’s Day. They’re also affectionately referred to as “chrissies” in this part of the world. The flower is also most readily available during May, approaching the end of Australian autumn and venturing into winter.

Today, Buddhist monks continue to treasure the flower for its optimistic connotations. The seemingly “perfect” stem is favored for its potent Yang energy — this makes it the ultimate good fortune flower and one that adds vibrance and color to any home.

Contrarily, people in Belgium, Austria, and France customarily incorporate chrysanthemums into funerals, memorials, and celebrations of life. In these countries, they’re associated primarily with grief and mourning. However, that’s not true of every part of Europe. In Great Britain, mums are typically associated with happiness and positivity.

Chrysanthemum Color Meanings

While the primary emotion associated with the lovely mum is joy, it’s worth noting that your flower arrangement may send a different message depending on the color you choose. The white chrysanthemum is a symbol of honesty, loyalty, and purity, but in some cultures, it’s used customarily during mourning periods.

Yellow mums, such as those present in the Fall Centerpiece, represents good fortune and friendship. Red, by contrast, is a powerful ambassador for passionate, enduring love, while pink reflects longevity and endurance. Red mums can be found in several bouquets, including The Crimson, a stunning arrangement of fall flowers. The violet mum is perfect to give when you want to convey get well wishes to someone. For violent mums, turn to The Mauve. Green mums are also an easy option if you want to express vibrancy and vitality.

When To Give Chrysanthemums

Now that you’re familiar with their history and symbolism, you’ll feel better equipped to make the right choice when selecting fall bouquets for a special occasion. The November baby in your life will no doubt appreciate an arrangement starring their signature birth flower — just choose a color that best conveys the message that you want to send to them.

They’re also often used for feng shui purposes. If your goal is to introduce positive energy and strength to the home, placing chrysanthemums in the bedroom or entryway is an effortless way to bring those good vibes to the space

In lieu of traditional red roses, you might choose to give red mums to convey to someone how much you love them. Because they’re the quintessential fall flower, these crimson beauties look fantastic in richly toned containers, from classic pots to crystal vases.

Whether you’re giving it as a gift, placing it in the home for a pop of energy, setting them in baskets or boxes, or decorating for a fall celebration, you can trust in the humble chrysanthemum to add plenty of beauty and positivity to the atmosphere.


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