Hibiscus flowers

Hibiscus flowers and their meaning

The hibiscus flower is the national symbol of Malaysia and is believed to have been brought there in the 12th century through trade with China, Japan and other Pacific islands. The hibiscus is also the national flower of the Hawaiian Islands, in its yellow version, and is also represented in the official emblems of South Korea, which, in the national anthem, compares the immortality of the flower to that of the homeland. The five petals of the flower represent the five qualities of: duty, happiness, unity, peace and purity. Hibiscus flowers are now grown all over the world and there are more than two hundred varieties. In Asian countries, such as China and Japan, hibiscus is an allegory of femininity, sexuality and warmth. In Asia, the flower is commonly given to brides as a symbol of the couple’s fertility.

Hibiscus: the European flower of fertility

During the Victorian era, when flowers adorned clothing, hairstyles, porcelain and jewelry, hibiscus came to take on the meaning of ‘immeasurable beauty’. This meaning derived from the climatic conditions in which the flower thrived, recalling mild temperatures, sunny days and exotic paradise places. In the nineteenth century, when the hibiscus flower was worn by a single girl, it meant her sexual maturity and her willingness to marry. Today, when hibiscus is used in compositions, it takes on the meaning of delicate beauty and fragility. In North America, the flower is known as the «Rose of Sharon» and is used by evangelical communities to symbolize the perfect bride: fruitful, beautiful and pure.

The meaning of the flower in the Hawaiian Islands

Hibiscus is the official state flower of the Hawaiian Islands, here it is commonly used as a symbol of welcome and is given to state officials and tourists in the form of a necklace. Hawaiian women wear this flower behind the ears: if the flower is placed behind the left ear, it represents the woman’s need to marry and have a sexually active life; behind the right ear, the woman is emotionally and physically busy; behind both ears, the woman is busy but is not sexually satisfied and is looking for a new lover. The hibiscus flower, in these communities, is frequently used as a tribal tattoo; it usually represents the passage of power from one householder to another and has the purpose of transmitting the wisdom and respect of the ancestors.

Hibiscus Flowers: Hibiscus in China, Japan and Asia Minor

In the Japanese language of flowers, known as hanakotoba, hibiscus means «sweetness». In Japan, the flower is given to diners as a symbol of sharing and hospitality. In China, however, it holds different meanings: some identify the hibiscus as the flower of wealth and fame; others associate its meaning with virginal purity. In South Korea, the hibiscus, or «mugunghwa», is a national symbol and, despite the fragility of its petals, it represents immortality. In Korean weddings the hibiscus is a metaphor for the immortality of love and is used as an emblem of courage and hope. In Egypt, the flower is known as «karkade» and is used as a medicinal plant; in the Middle East, the meaning of the hibiscus is linked to sexual symbolism and is given by men to lovers,

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