Let’s talk about Toussaint, a Catholic holiday honoring all saints, known in English as All Saints Day.  All Saints Day is all about flowers and French traditions. It is a time when French people pay respect to their deceased relatives.  All Saints’ Day, the 1st of November, sees families gathering to visit cemeteries to clean and decorate tombs.  And they decorate them mainly with chrysanthemums.All Saints Day flowers in cemetery

The tradition of using chrysanthemums is a relatively recent one, dating from 1919 when the then President, Raymond Poincaré, declared that all war memorials should be decorated with floral tributes. As one of the rare flowers still in bloom in November, it became the flower of choice for cemeteries, with hundreds of thousands of widows laying blooms at their fallen husbands’ memorials.

flowers for Toussaint

The chrysanthemum is now known as the widow’s flower and is forever associated with Toussaint and death.  With such connotations, chrysanthemums are not usually given on other occasions and should be avoided as a gift – many’s the time an innocent foreigner has unwittingly caused offense (or at least surprise) by offering a hostess these colourful flowers!

All Saints Day traditions in France

The chrysanthemum is the most sold flower in the world and each year around 25 million pots are placed on French graves on the 1st of November, jollying up cemeteries all over the country.

flowers on graves

Particularly when placed together in great bunches I think they look lovely and happily the chrysanthemum isn’t associated with death all over the world.  In fact, in direct contrast, in Asia where it originates from, it is the flower of joy, elegance and eternity.chrysanthemum shop

Do you have any traditions surrounding a particular flower where you’re from? I’d love to hear from you.

Further Reading

Oleander – The Flower With Power

Mimosa Season on the Côte d’Azur 

May Day Traditions in France

Why not PIN this for later!

All SAints Day flowers

Image of flower shop courtesy of The French Village Diaries

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