The two birth flowers for May are the fragrant white flowers of the Lily of the Valley and the Hawthorn, which both flower in spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
May Birth Flower: Lily of the Valley
The primary birthday flower of May is Lily of the Valley, a scented woodland plant that blooms in spring.
The first part of the scientific name Convallaria majalis means 'in the valley', referring to the European wooded valleys where the plant grows naturally, and the second part means 'belonging to' or 'of May'.
The Lily of the Valley has been used as a floral emblem in Yugoslavia, Finland and Norway; and it has become customary to give this flower as a symbol of spring on May Day in France.
May Birth Flower: Hawthorn
The second flower for May is the Hawthorn, a common shrub to small tree that also produces fragrant white flowers in the spring, known as the May-tree in some countries.
The red edible fruit known as 'haws' and the thorny branches have given rise to other common names such as quickthorn, whitethorn, thornapple, and hawberry.
Hawthorns feature in many cultural customs across Europe and Britain.
The language of flowers introduced in Victorian times says that the Hawthorn and Lily of the Valley symbolize happiness, humility and sweetness.
Birth flower reference: Floriography Today by S. Theresa Dietz
The Language Of Flowers As Seen On Antique Jewelry Caskets
Flowers have been greatly esteemed since the dawn of civilization. Ancient Egyptians painted them on their temple walls and the withered remains of flowers have been found in ancient tombs around the world. The colorful and fragile beauty of flowers has given rise to countless culturally symbolic meanings, and folktales about flowers have abounded from the earliest times although not in the Western World until the end of the Middle Ages. Floral representations have been added to all forms and materials of artistic effort - paintings, metal ware, furniture, fabric and so on. Floral names have even graced our daughters. Although less common now, names such as Rose, Daisy, Myrtle, Pansy, and even Honey, were once quite popular.
In Europe, correspondence through flowers began in the 1700's, when Charles II of Sweden introduced the Persian custom referred to as the "Language of Flowers." The advent of the Industrial Revolution and the reign of Queen Victoria (of England) combined to spread the idea of sentimentality with floral motifs. Victorian homes were elaborately decorated with florals on the walls, furniture, paintings, utensils, and trinkets. A gift of flowers held much significance; each blossom conveying a message. An entire conversation could be expressed through the exchange of flowers!
The many legends attached to flowers might be divided into three classes: the mythological, the ecclesiastical/ historical, and the poetical. The mythological legends often relate to "creation" stories as well as the transformation by the gods of luckless nymphs and youths into flowers and trees, which have since kept their names. Many stories describe the origin of the color of blossoms. For example, white flowers are represented as having originated from fallen tears, and pink or red flowers from blushes or blood. The ecclesiastic/historical legends are generally due to the reverent imaginings of Catholic monks. While tending their flowers in the quiet and seclusion of monastery gardens, they may have associated a certain flower with a memory of some favorite saint or martyr, and allowed their fancy to weave a fiction to perpetuate the memory of that saint. Many historical legends pertain to favorite sons and daughters of the Church. The poetical legends include the numerous fairy tales in which flowers and plants play an important part, and which may include elves, trolls and witches. In more recent history (the Victorian era), flowers came to be a language of symbolic content.
The following represents a brief summary of just a few of the many tales about the blossoms that came to hold so much meaning during the Victorian period:
Lilies of the Valley, also called "Virgin's Tears," have blossoms that were thought (during the mid-1500's) to possess a perfume highly medicinal against "nervous affections." The water distilled from them was in such great repute that it was kept only in vessels of gold and silver. There is also a legend that in the forest of St. Leonard, where the hermit-saint once dwelt, fierce encounters took place between him and a dragon. The holy man finally succeeded in driving the dragon away, and the scenes of their battles were revealed afresh each year, when beds of fragrant Lilies of the Valley appeared wherever the earth had been sprinkled by the blood of the warrior saint.
Joanne Wiertella has been collecting cast metal jewel boxes for more than 20 years. When she visited antique shops, dealers just didn't seem to know very much about them. And so began her quest for information. Learning that there was virtually nothing current written about these beautiful boxes, she began to research trade papers - periodicals and catalogs of the early 1900's. They say that "everyone has a book in them," and so she wrote and published her own: THE JEWEL BOX BOOK: The Definitive Guide to American Art Metal Jewelry Boxes 1900-1925. Hardcover: ISBN 0-9763710-0-6; Paperback: ISBN 0-9763710-1-4. The book includes descriptions of typical styles, floral motifs (and their meanings), metal composition, finishes, trademarks/patents/copyrights, sample catalog pictures, manufacturers (like Jennings Bros, Weidlich Bros, Benedict, K&O, NB Rogers), 500 color photos of jewel boxes, a guide to dating jewel boxes, and a value guide.
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