To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance
The chrysanthemum has many meanings for people around the world. Some say that this beautiful flower symbolizes long life, joy, optimism and fidelity. In China, it is believed to bring compassion, cheerfulness, optimism, abundance and wealth. It is the national flower of Japan and every September, it is featured in the annual “Festival of Happiness” there. It is also the “November” birth flower.
In the language of flowers for many, to give a Chrysanthemum to someone says that someone is “a wonderful friend” (red Chrysanthemums are for love; white Chrysanthemums are for truth). Ancient Asian lore says that one Chrysanthemum petal placed at the bottom of a wine glass will encourage a long and healthy life.
But in Italy, chrysanthemums symbolize sadness and sorrow. Puccini composed the beautiful piece Crisantemi for string quartet in 1890, with the dedication “Alla memoria di Amedeo di Savoia Duca d’Aosta”. I cannot pretend, even for a moment, that this last meaning for chrysanthemums has not been foremost in my mind after what happened in Paris, this past Friday 13th. My heart goes out to all who have been affected. Which means to everyone in the world, doesn’t it?
And yet, when we were bicycling to the market on Saturday, we couldn’t help noticing all the chrysanthemums flowering bravely and profusely in peoples’ gardens, in spite of the chill in the air and threats of frost.
Comme des feux arrachés par un grand coloriste à l’instabilité de l’atmosphère et du soleil, afin qu’ils vinssent orner une demeure humaine, ils m’invitaient, ces chrysanthèmes, et malgré toute ma tristesse, à goûter avidement pendant cette heure du thé les plaisirs si courts de novembre dont ils faisaient flamber près de moi la splendeur intime et mystérieuse.
-Marcel Proust, A la recherche du temps perdu [In Search of Lost Time], Vol 1