Translating traditional Valentine's Day gifts

Friday , March 28, 2014 - 12:10 PM

Sarah Stratford

Valentine’s Day is the notorious holiday for the expression of love through indulgent reminders of how dear and near to one’s heart others can be.

These little luxuries of love often include a small gift of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers, but do you really know what message you are sending with those sweet smells and tastes? Or are you as confused as Laertes when Ophelia starts rambling on about flowers (see Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” Act 4 Scene 5)?

Flowers have been important to many throughout the course of human history. They can represent many human attributes and convey mixed emotions. There are many different explanations of the meanings of certain flowers.

For all you sweeties, here’s an easy starter guide to flowers and their underlying expressions. This list comes in part from the websites and, and includes well-known flowers along with some that are less advertised.

• Roses

White — innocence and secrecy

Red — love, respect

Coral — desire

Dark crimson — mourning

Dark pink — thankfulness

Pale pink — grace, joy

Pale peach — modesty

Lavender — enchantment

Yellow — joy, friendship

Rosebuds — youth and beauty

Full bloom — “I love you”

Leaf on stem — “You may hope”

Thornless stem — love at first sight

• Primrose — “I can’t live without you.”

This one rings with a new sense of clarity to readers of “The Hunger Games Trilogy,” as a main character bears the name of this flower.

• Poppy

Red — pleasure

White — consolation

Yellow — wealth and success

• Tulip

Red — “Believe me,” or declaration of love

Yellow — “There’s sunshine in your smile”; hopeless love

• Forget-me-not — true love, memories

• Daffodil — chivalry

• Daisy — innocence, purity

• Dandelion — faithfulness, happiness

• Iris

Purple — wisdom, compliments

Blue — passion

White – purity

• Lily

White — modesty

Orange — passion

Yellow — gaiety (happiness)

Lily of the Valley — sweetness and purity of heart

• Carnation

White — sweet and lovely

Pink — “I’ll never forget you”

Red — admiration

Yellow — rejection, disappointment

Solid color (reply) — “Yes”

Striped (reply) — “No”

• Cactus – endurance

As for chocolates, there is not much cultural evidence as to why this sweet is traditionally given out on this holiday. It may have been simply for the joy of the taste or the sweetness of the substance that implies feelings of the same measure.

Whatever started the trend, chocolates have become a mainstay in the American Valentine’s Day celebration. In “The Hidden Meaning of Chocolates,” an article written by Jessica Layne for the website, there’s a personality test using chocolate as a determination factor. Here’s a “taste” of Layne’s personality quiz, based on the type of chocolate or filling you prefer.

• Chocolate

Milk — nostalgic, innocent

Dark — visionary, materialistic, problem solver

White — peacekeeper, fence straddler

Bitter — authoritative, respected, determined

All — social butterfly, hip, flexible

• Fillings

Almonds — friendly, an achiever

Caramel — dependable, steady, observant

Butterscotch — dependable, obedient, honest

Coconut — creative, passionate, dreamer

Cherry — energetic, passionate, exciting

Fudge — unique, visionary

Marshmallow — social, talkative, optimistic

Orange — spiritual, dependable

Peanuts — earthy, athletic, family oriented

With this information in hand, have fun this Valentine’s Day and spread the love with a full knowledge of what you are giving and receiving.

Sarah Stratford is a senior at Davis High School who loves cinematography and books. Email her at

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