Quick! What’s your favourite flower? Mine is, without question, the peony.
I love the fact that they are a highly seasonal flower and not available all year round (very easily). I love the pale pink colour they most commonly come in. I love the way they smell. I love the way they open up and are are as beautiful as can be before far too quickly ending their gorgeous blooms. I even planted a few plants at my house a few years ago that are now my gardening pride and joy – although let’s be honest, that’s not saying much. They’re also a constant image in my Instagram feed come Spring.
As I was sharing this tidbit about myself with someone the other day, I realized that I had no idea what the flower “stood for” in terms of it’s meaning. What is the meaning of a peony? The rose means love, the carnation means filler flower (SATC reference there, did you get it?), but the peony… I had no idea.
Like many things, there are several interpretations of the meaning. Here is the one that I found the most consistently listed in contemporary uses and coincidently seems to be very much things I like that my favourite flower say about me.
The peony is often associated with several meanings that include romance and prosperity. It also symbolizes good fortune and happy marriages because the blossoms of the peony flower is round which symbolizes money. The generous look of the peony flower also represents fortune in romance thus it symbolize a happy marriage. Traditionally, couples that are celebrating their 12th wedding anniversary are given peonies as present.
There is also some very traditional meanings, both in Ancient Greece and China;
In China, it is generally known as the “king of flowers”, symbolizing honor, wealth, and aristocracy, as well as love, affection, and feminine beauty. The Greek story goes that the Greek god of medicine Asclepius had a student named Paena. But, the student was actually better than the master, so the teacher because jealous of him. The story goes that Zeus actually had to save the student from the teacher’s wrath by turning him into a flower.
So really the peony pretty much universally means love (romance, happy marriage, affection) and good luck (good fortune, wealth, being saved from a teacher by Zeus). Those are all things that I can get behind and make me even more sure of my choice of favourite flower. I now also don’t feel quite so bad for having an entire Pinterest board dedicated to peonies. Which is where I’ll be ogling until the real deal is available later this Spring.