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Grade 10, English Unit 9, Reading II Flowers in Russian Culture

 Grade 10, English Unit 9, Reading II Flowers in Russian Culture

Grade 10, English Unit 9, Reading II Flowers in Russian Culture

Reading II


What do these flowers represent in your culture?

Flowers:                                           Symbols

a. Night jasmine (Parijat)   : Love and Fertility                  

b. Lotus   : Beauty, purity and holiness

c. Globe amaranth (Makhamali)   : immortality



Flowers in Russian Culture


Flowers are a staple item in the gift-giving world. For many of us, it usually does not matter which blossoming bunch we receive. Flowers are a thoughtful gesture of good will, as long as they produce a pleasant aroma and a visually pleasing colour palette.


The Russians are practically no different, and similarities exist regarding using flowers as a token of expressing love and affection. It is always heartwarming to receive flowers. However, flower-gifting in Russia has some unique traditions. Flower etiquette, in Russia is strictly guided by a range of rules depending on the setting. For instance, the kinds of flowers gifted in a romantic setting differ immensely from those gifted when visiting a Russian home. If flowers are gifted outside these rules, it is possible to offend the receiver.


Red carnations are filled with a deep sense of patriotism. The origins of this symbolism reside in the 1917 February Revolution. The Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party of Bolsheviks had produced masses of cardboard pins designed like red carnations. These badges gained widespread popularity and became a symbol of resistance against the Russian Provisional Government.


Contrasting to the victorious symbols of red carnations, white carnations represent bad omens. The washed-out petals are believed to strip holders off good luck and talent. Therefore, white carnations should not be given as gifts to performers. On the other hand, Russians believe that placing a white carnation under your pillow while you sleep leaves you inspired upon waking the next morning.

In Russia, red poppy flowers symbolize weakness and fleeting love.  Consequently, giving a red poppy to a loved one contradicts the desire for a long, healthy relationship. Interestingly, however, poppy seeds are viewed differently. At traditional Russian weddings, poppy seed is often eaten as a symbol of happiness for a married couple. Sometimes, the seeds are placed in the bride and groom's shoes as a symbol of procreation.


In many cultures, yellow is a bright and happy colour that symbolises friendship. However, in Russian culture, yellow flowers symbolise sadness and dishonesty. Therefore, giving a bunch of yellow flowers to a beloved one represents an inevitable break-up. This is most famously represented in the break-up song called 'yellow tulips.'


Chamomile is the national flower of Russia. Its slender white petals encapsulate a bright yellow centre. Russians believe that chamomile, in the form of tea and aromatherapy, offers a vast range of medical benefits in treating fatal diseases from cancer to diabetes.


A lesser-known belief suggests that the chamomile is a mosquito and fly repellent another protective quality beyond that of fatal diseases. Throwing a bunch of these white and yellow flowers into a fire is believed to deter irritating insects.

Among women, chamomile holds a fortune-telling function. The self- murmured pattern of 'he loves me, he loves me not' is repeated until the last dainty petal is plucked. A similar fortune-telling function is served by the Lily of the Valley flower. Each lily petal is plucked with the inner monologue of the holder following an 'it will happen, it won't happen' pattern.

The white calla lily is an elegant flower that would pair nicely with a snowy wedding dress. However, bringing a white lily bouquet to a Russian wedding would not pair so nicely with the responses you would receive from other attendees. These flowers symbolise death and are believed to foreshadow the split of the newly-wed couple.



Staple : /ˈsteɪpl/ forming a basic, large or important part of something

colour palette : range of colors

aroma : /əˈrəʊmə/ a pleasant smell that is easy to notice

heartwarming  : /ˈhɑːt wɔːmɪŋ/ causing feelings of happiness and pleasure

immensely : /ɪˈmensli/ extremely; very much

offend : /əˈfend/ to make somebody feel upset because of something you say or do that is rude or embarrassing

carnations : /kɑːˈneɪʃn/ a white, pink, red or yellow flower, often worn as a decoration on formal occasions

cardboard : /ˈkɑːdbɔːd/ stiff material like very thick paper, often used for making boxes

omens : /ˈəʊmən/ a sign of what is going to happen in the future

fleeting : /ˈfliːtɪŋ/ lasting only a short time

Consequently : /ˈkɒnsɪkwəntli/ as a result; therefore

Procreation : /ˌprəʊkriˈeɪʃn/ the act or process of producing children or baby animals

Dishonesty : /dɪsˈɒnɪsti/ the fact of being dishonest

Inevitable : /ɪnˈevɪtəbl/ that you cannot avoid or prevent

Encapsulate : /ɪnˈkæpsjuleɪt/ to express the most important parts of something in a few words, a small space or a single object

Aromatherapy : /əˌrəʊməˈθerəpi/ the use of natural oils that smell sweet to improve physical, emotional or mental health, by rubbing them into the skin or breathing in their smell

Fatal : /ˈfeɪtl/ causing or ending in death

Repellent : /rɪˈpelənt/ very unpleasant; causing strong dislike

Deter : /dɪˈtɜː(r)/ to make somebody decide not to do something or continue doing something, especially by making them understand the difficulties and unpleasant results of their actions

self- murmured : /ˈmɜːmə(r)/ to say something in a soft quiet voice that is difficult to hear or understand

dainty : /ˈdeɪnti/ small and pretty in a way that people find attractive

monologue : /ˈmɒnəlɒɡ/ a long speech by one person during a conversation that stops other people from speaking or expressing an opinion

elegant : /ˈelɪɡənt/ attractive and showing a good sense of style

attendees : /əˌtenˈdiː/ a person who attends a meeting, etc.

foreshadow : /fɔːˈʃædəʊ/  to be a sign of something that will happen in the future


A. Find out the single words for the following meanings.

a. a strong, usually pleasant smell ………………….

b. different colours of paint, especially as used by an artist …………….

c. to a great degree ……………………..

d. lasting only a short time ………………..

e. the act or process of producing children or baby animals ……………….

f.   enclose (something) in or as if in a capsule ……………………..

a   type of treatment which involves massaging the body with special fragrant oils ………………….

h. causing to be kept away ……………………

i.   to be a sign of something that will happen in the future …………….


a. aroma

b. palette

c. immensely

d. fleeting

e. procreation

f. encapsulate

g. aromatherapy

h. repellent

i. foreshadow


B. Words like gift-giving, heartwarming, cardboard, etc., are compound words. Make a list of such compound words from the text.

Gift-giving                 Heartwarming         Cardboard         Flower-gifting

Red carnations        White carnations    Poppy seeds    Yellow flowers

Aromatherapy         Break-up                   Fortune-telling Lily of the Valley

Calla lily                    Showy wedding       Newly-wed


C. Complete the sentences below with the correct information from the text.

a. People do not care which flowers they are receiving as long as the flowers are beautiful and they give a pleasant aroma.

b. Flowers are gifted worldwide to express love and affection.

c. Following the strict flower etiquette while gifting flowers in Russia saves you from offending people.

d. Red carnations symbolize a sense of patriotism produced by the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party of Bolsheviks.

e. Russian people believe that the white carnation strips holders off good luck and talent so, we should not gift them to performers.

f.   Russian people do not gift red puppy flowers to their loved ones because they think if they do so their love becomes weak.

g. When Russians want break-up from their beloved ones they gift yellow flowers.

h. Chamomiles have medicinal values so they can be used for the treatment of fatal diseases.

i. We should not gift a white lily bouquet in a Russian wedding as it symbolises death and foreshadows the split of the newly-wed couple.


D. Answer these questions.

a. Mention any two reasons for which people gift flowers to others.

Any two reasons for which people gift flowers are i) to express love and affection,  and ii) to convey good will to others.


b. How do people feel when they are gifted flowers?

     People generally feel heartwarming and appreciated when they are gifted flowers.


c. What determines the selection of flowers for gifting in Russia?

The selection of flowers for gifting in Russia is determined by flower etiquette, which varies based on the setting and occasion.


d. Which event in Russian history is reflected by the red carnation?

The red carnation reflects the 1917 February Revolution in Russian history.


e. Does a Russian like to keep a white carnation under his/ her pillow? Why?

Russians believe that placing a white carnation under the pillow brings inspiration upon waking the next morning.


f.   What's the reason for connecting the red puppy with fragile love?

The red poppy is connected with fragile love due to its symbolism of weakness and fleeting love in Russian culture.


g. What makes the Russian people eat red puppy seeds in their wedding?

Russians eat red poppy seeds at their weddings as a symbol of happiness and sometimes place them in the bride and groom's shoes to symbolize procreation.


h. Do you prefer to grow chamomile in your garden? Why? What colour is chamomile?

Yes, I prefer to grow chamomile in my garden because this flower is valued for its medicinal properties. Chamomile flowers are typically white with a bright yellow center.


i.   Write the names of two flowers used for fortune telling.

Two flowers used for fortune-telling are chamomile and Lily of the Valley.


j.   Which flower is mostly used in Russian weddings?

The white calla lily is the flower most commonly used in Russian weddings.



E. Do you know other flowers that are commonly used for gifting? Write the names of those flowers and the occasions on which they are gifted.

Roses: Valentine's Day, anniversaries, expressing romantic love

Lilies: Funerals, sympathy, expressing condolences

Tulips: Spring celebrations, Mother's Day, birthdays

Daisies: Birthdays, to bring cheer and happiness

Orchids: Housewarming, to convey elegance and beauty

Sunflowers: Get well soon, to brighten someone's day

Carnations: Mother's Day, expressing love and gratitude to mothers

Chrysanthemums: Funerals, sympathy, expressing condolences (though be cautious as they can have varying cultural meanings)

Gerbera Daisies: Celebrations, to bring joy and happiness

Peonies: Weddings, anniversaries, to symbolize love and good fortune

Hydrangeas: Birthdays, thank you gifts, expressing heartfelt emotions

Iris: Sympathy, to convey condolences

Anthurium: Housewarming, to wish good luck and happiness in the new home

Daffodils: Spring celebrations, to express new beginnings and joy

Alstroemeria (Peruvian lilies): Friendship, to show appreciation and companionship

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