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The birth month flower for November is the chrysanthemum, a flower with 3500 years of history. Around 1500 BC the chrysanthemum was being cultivated in China, and from here it has become one of the most recognized flowers around the world, carrying many different meanings.
From its first cultivation in China as a flowering herb, the chrysanthemum was introduced to Japan around the 8th Century AD, where a stylized version of the flower is used to this day as the Imperial Seal; the chrysanthemum also gives its name to the throne (the physical throne as well as the virtual throne of the monarchy and the head of state.) After the chrysanthemum was brought to Europe, around the 17th Century, the great botanist Carl Linnaeus named it after the Greek words for golden (the native, natural color) and flower; nowadays, after centuries of cultivation and hybridization, chrysanthemums grow in a variety of shapes, and come in a wide range of colors, from white, through yellow, to red and purple.
Mums (a common abbreviation) have a long culinary as well as decorative history. In China, white or yellow flowers are boiled to make a sweet tea, often used medicinally as a restorative. The leaves are often used in many Asian cuisines, boiled or steamed, and often added to soups and stews. A favorite dish of this (British, but now US-resident) author is hae-mul-tang, a spicy Korean stew of assorted seafood to which chrysanthemum leaves are added just before serving. Delicious!
The general flower meaning for the chrysanthemum is one of optimism, and great happiness or joy. There are also specific meanings associated with some colors:
|White :||truth, or loyal love (but see note below)|
|Yellow :||slighted or spurned love|
White chrysanthemums have a meaning which changes as you change culture and country. In the US, white mums mean truth or loyalty. This is not the case in several European countries, where they are symbols of bereavement and will only be found at funerals and grave sites (this is true in France, Italy, some Balkan states, and Poland, for example.) Similarly, many East Asian cultures (for example, China, Japan and Korea) these flowers symbolize grief and sorrow.
November flowers are available in a “basket of dreams” arrangement from our recommended online florist; this arrangement includes green spider chrysanthemums that really set the fall scene.