THE LEGEND OF THE CHRYSANTHEMUM
In the Western world, the chrysanthemum is a flower of the month of November, which somehow associates this flower to the dead.
This is the reason why we see so many chrysanthemums in our cemeteries on November 1st, the Day of the Dead.
Chrysanthemums in bright colours
In China, the chrysanthemum is a sacred flower. Chinese people have been cultivating this plant for over 3,000 years, and the chrysanthemum is their official plant of the month of October.
The ancient Chinese considered the chrysanthemum one of the four noble plants along with the bamboo, the orchid, and the plum, and common Chinese were not allowed to grow it in their gardens!
In the Land of the Rising Sun – as Japan is often called – the chrysanthemum is the flower of the month of September, and the first chrysanthemums arrived in Japan from China
at the end of the IV century, and became the symbol of the Japanese imperial family three hundred years later. We find a yellow 16-petal chrysanthemum in Japan’s imperial seal,
and the greatest honour for Japanese is to receive the “Order of the Chrysanthemum”.
You will therefore not be surprised to know that the birth of the Japanese empire has its origin in a legend of the chrysanthemum.
According to that legend or myth, twelve young maids and twelve young men set out from China to find the “herb of youth”, which supposedly would keep people eternally young.
In order to trade for this herb, they carried with them baskets of chrysanthemums. Unfortunately, their ship wrecked near a deserted island, and they had to swim ashore.
They planted the chrysanthemums in this new land, and this is how the chrysanthemums were introduced to Japan!
Chrysanthemums can now be found in every colour, but the plant’s name comes from the Greek words ‘chrysos’ and ‘anthos’, which mean "gold" and "flower" respectively.
This leads us to guess that the original colour of the flower was yellow.
In Malta and in Italy, people believe that having chrysanthemums in the house brings bad luck, since this flower is associated to the dead.
In the language of flowers, the chrysanthemum is a symbol of Optimism and Happiness.
© Dulce Rodrigues