A flower bouquet is a collection of flowers in a creative arrangement. Flower bouquets can be arranged for the decor of homes or public buildings, or may be handheld. Handheld bouquets are classified by several different popular shapes and styles, including nosegay, crescent, and cascading bouquets. Flower bouquets are often given for special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries. They are also used extensively in weddings. Bouquets arranged in vases or planters for home decor can be arranged in either traditional or modern styles. Symbolism may be attached to the types of flowers used, according to the culture.
The arrangement of flowers for home or building decor has a long history throughout the world. The oldest evidence of formal arranging of bouquets in vases comes from Egypt, and depictions of flower arrangements date back to 2500 BCE. The sacred lotus was often used, as were herbs, palms, irises, anemones, and narcissus. In some cultures, ancient practises still survive today, for example in ikebana, the art of flower-arranging that comes from Japan. The oldest known book on flower-arranging is Japanese and dates from 1445. Simplicity and linear form are core features of ikebana, which has had a great influence on Western flower arranging since the late 19th century. Flower-arranging as an art form was brought to Japan by Buddhist monks, who learned it while in China. In ancient China, flower-arranging developed into a highly refined art form, based on the principle that life is sacred, including the life of plants, therefore cut flowers were used sparingly in carefully planned arrangements. Flowers were a traditional ritual offering among Buddhists, however, and remain so. In Europe, flower arranging as a formal art was first documented among the Dutch, who "in particular, painted wonderful informal arrangements of flowers [...] In the 18th century, arrangements were used to decorate the houses of the wealthy families and the aristocracy." Flower symbolism is common in many cultures, and can be complex. In China, certain flowers symbolize seasons: white plum blossoms represent winter, peach and cherry blossoms represent spring, lotus represents summer, and chrysanthemums the fall.
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