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The Different Languages of Blossoms: The Art of Giving Flowers, Singapore VS Taiwan

“Die so quickly… so expensive! Buy for what?”

Flowers, although fleeting in their beauty, can sometimes be perceived as a costly indulgence.

It’s a sentiment frequently echoed by Singaporeans, a community well aware of the challenges posed by a high cost of living and heavy reliance on imported resources. In such circumstances, the notion of investing hard-earned money in flowers as gifts or flower bouquets often raises questions about their lasting value. Many locals prefer directing their financial resources towards items that offer long-term utility or practicality in their daily lives, as they strive to maximize the value derived from their expenditures.

condolence flowers
condolence flowers in funerals

Flower gifting in Singapore holds a special significance, intertwined with formal and ceremonial occasions that exude elegance and reverence. Whether it’s a dignified ceremony, a sombre funeral, a joyous graduation, or a heartfelt expression on occasions like Valentine’s Day, flowers assume the role of powerful symbols, representing respect and celebration. This cultural inclination emphasizes reserving floral gifts for these meaningful milestones, underscoring their importance within the local context. By adopting such a thoughtful approach, the act of giving flowers acquires greater weight and symbolism, making it all the more impactful and cherished when shared on these notable occasions.

In Singapore’s diverse cultural landscape, the tradition of flower gifting takes on a distinctive significance, particularly during solemn events such as funerals. Notably, the Chinese and Indian communities demonstrate a greater prevalence of flower offerings, as their funeral rites often extend over multiple days to honour and pay homage to the departed. During these profound moments, flowers serve as a poignant expression of condolence and support, conveying heartfelt sentiments to grieving families. The vibrant blooms provide solace and comfort, symbolizing the enduring beauty that transcends even in times of sorrow.

It is important to acknowledge that the frequency of flower gifting during funerals may vary across different cultural practices. Among the Malay community, funeral proceedings typically encompass a single day, with greater emphasis placed on other forms of support and solidarity. While flowers may play a relatively lesser role in these specific instances, the significance of unity and compassion remains unwavering. Gestures of assistance, presence, and sincere condolences take centre stage, reflecting the unique customs and values of Malay culture.

Within Singapore’s multicultural tapestry, the diverse approaches to flower gifting during significant events showcase the richness and variety of traditions. It serves as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of multiple cultural practices and the respect accorded to each community’s distinct customs.

In my hometown of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, a vibrant and distinct culture surrounding flowers blossoms. Here, an affection for flowers permeates the air, captivating the hearts of its inhabitants. Whether they be faux, fresh or preserved, flowers hold a special place in the lives of the locals. A delightful sight awaits as you step into their homes or offices, where vases adorned with golden Oncidium or graceful pussy willows grace the entrance.

This cherished tradition extends beyond the confines of domestic spaces, as gifting floral arrangements has become a customary practice for a myriad of occasions. From birthdays, housewarmings, graduations, brunches, or even as a simple gesture of respect towards seniors in the workplace, the act of bestowing flowers is considered a genuine token of thoughtfulness. Moreover, it is not uncommon for individuals to indulge themselves by purchasing flowers solely for their personal enjoyment, allowing the vibrant colours and captivating fragrances to brighten their own lives. The act of purchasing flowers has evolved into a wonderfully casual and accessible practice, thanks to the abundance of locally grown blooms that grace the country. This unique combination of proximity and affordability has fostered a culture where acquiring flowers becomes an everyday joy, seamlessly integrated into the tapestry of their life.

Deeply rooted in Taiwanese culture, the profound appreciation for flowers has given rise to a phenomenon in Kaohsiung. Here, amidst the bustling district of Lingya, a captivating spectacle unfolds along Xingzhong 1st Road—a street dedicated entirely to the vibrant world of florists. Known locally as “高雄市苓雅區興中一路,” it stands as a testament between the Taiwanese people and the exquisite beauty of blossoms. Many traditional flower shops are set up here, it is like the headquarters for florists. An array of shops brimming with an abundance of locally grown and meticulously sourced blooms that cater to every occasion and personal preference. There are also shops dedicated to florist tools or equipment. A trip to this floral haven transports visitors into a realm where creativity flourishes.

While February 14th is universally recognized as Valentine’s Day, a day when people worldwide endeavour to obtain flowers for their beloveds, it’s fascinating to explore how different cultures have infused their own unique twists into this cherished tradition. In Taiwan, a practice has emerged (a practice rooted from Japan), with individuals eagerly purchasing flowers on the 14th of March. This special day, often referred to as “White Day – 白色情人節” serves as a delightful counterpart to Valentine’s Day.

Moreover, the celebration doesn’t end there; love and affection are given an extended embrace as people continue to commemorate Valentine’s Day every 14th day of each subsequent month. This recurring observance adds an enchanting rhythm to the year, ensuring that the spirit of love and the joy of gifting valentine’s flowers are celebrated and cherished throughout the calendar. It’s a testament to the enduring power of love and the beautiful ways in which cultures infuse their own distinct Flavors into beloved traditions.

In conclusion, The language of blossoms transcends borders and cultures, weaving a tapestry of diverse traditions and meaningful expressions. In Singapore, flower gifting or sending flowers to someone is intricately linked to formal and ceremonious occasions, reserving floral gifts for these significant milestones underscores their importance within the local context, elevating the act of giving flowers to a symbol of respect and celebration. Meanwhile in Taiwan, a deep-rooted love for flowers permeates everyday life. The abundance of locally grown blooms, coupled with their affordability, has fostered a casual and accessible culture of flower purchasing, creating a vibrant and enchanting atmosphere.

 

The different languages of blossoms speak volumes about the values, customs, and interconnectedness of communities around the world. From Singapore to Taiwan, the act of giving flowers holds profound meaning, expressing sentiments of respect, celebration, and love. As we embrace and appreciate these diverse traditions, we recognize the enduring beauty of flowers and their ability to touch hearts, bridge cultures, and create lasting memories.

A personal reflection by the writer, YenFei (黄妍妃)

Huang Yen-Fei (黄妍妃) has been working as a florist at 24HrsCityFlorist since 2021, infusing her artistic touch into every floral creation. Simultaneously, she is pursuing her studies in Biomedical Engineering, driven to leverage technology for the betterment of society. Born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and raised in the vibrant multicultural environment of Singapore, she tries to bridge the gaps between these cultures. Her ultimate goal is to foster understanding and appreciation for the rich diversity that surrounds us by introducing innovative and captivating practices to both societies.

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