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The Secret of Britain’s National Symbol Flowers

National symbols play an important role in giving people national identity and a sense of belonging. It is interesting to note that every symbol that is chosen has a meaning, and by understanding its meaning, we are better able to appreciate the symbol. This is a view that is shared by Mary Jennings from Handy Flowers, one of the biggest flower shops in London, the place to get any of Britain’s four national symbol flowers, the rose of England, the shamrock of Ireland, Scotland’s thistle and the daffodil of Wales.

England’s Rose

The floral symbol for England is a rose, but not just a normal rose it is a Tudor rose, or the Union rose as it is sometimes called. The history of this rose dates back to the times of Henry VII. When he became the first monarch of Tudor, the House of Lancaster and the House of York were at war and through his diplomacy he was able to broker peace between the two houses. The flower symbol for the House of Lancaster was a red rose while that of the House of York was a white rose.

After peace had been attained, Henry VII chose to combine the two symbols creating a double rose that had white petals on the inside and red petals on the outside. It is practically a combination of two roses, one five petal white rose placed on top of another five petal red rose. That is how the Tudor rose came into being. It is now clear why the Tudor rose is sometimes called the Union rose, and it symbolizes peace.

The Shamrock of Ireland

The shamrock, the national flower of Ireland is a symbol with sacred significance. In ancient days, the Celts held anything that came in threes in high esteem because according to them that was a sign of importance. This was true with the way the world was divided into the earth, the sky and the sea. The three phases of the moon were also of significance, which is the new moon, the full moon and the quarter moon. It is no wonder then that the shamrock which is a three leafed plant was looked upon as sacred.

As the legend goes, St. Patrick who is Ireland’s patron saint while evangelizing to the Irish people, frequently used the shamrock flower to explain the doctrine of the Trinity. This can be traced to as far back as 1675 where images depict St. Patrick holding a shamrock as he was preaching to a large crowd. Through the use of the shamrock, St. Patrick helped the people grasp the complex mystery of the Trinity.

Scotland’s Thistle

One may wonder how such a humble weed like the thistle has become such an important part of Scotland. There are a number of stories that have sprung up to try and explain “why the thistle”. One such story involves the Scots and the Vikings.

It is whispered that in the mid thirteenth century, the Vikings had planned an invasion on the Scottish Clansmen together with the Highlanders. The strategy was to surprise them as they slept. In order to ensure silence, the Vikings decided to remove their shoes. As they were creeping barefoot, the thistle came to the rescue of the Scottish brotherhood.

One of the Viking soldiers stepped straight down on a thistle and he could not hide his pain. Shouting and screaming, he started hopping around, and so alerted the Scots who jumped into action, defeating the Vikings.

The Daffodil of Wales

“Why the daffodil?” one may ask. The daffodil ushers in the summer, making it a sign of hope. It symbolizes new birth and its message is one that is full of hope and is inspiring, just what is needed to celebrate a new beginning. This bright yellow flower is one of the first signs to indicate spring is in the air. After the darkness of winter, the daffodil stands up tall to usher in the warmth of the sun and the rebirth of plant life.

There is a Welsh belief that the first person to see the daffodil will be blessed with lots of gold during the year that is just beginning. This in itself is a story of hope and forward looking. The appearance of the daffodil also coincides with the day that Wales commemorates its patron saint. As with all things ancient, there is a story behind St. David.

It is said that there was something magical about St. David. One story suggests that one time when he was talking to the people, one person shouted that people could not see St. David. The ground where St. David stood miraculously rose up, placing him above the people, so everyone could see him.

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