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Chapter 13 Seasonal, holiday, and special occasion designs.

Rarely does a week of the year pass by without some sort of special occasion taking place. Perhaps it is the birth of a baby, a dinner party, an anniversary, or a birthday. Or maybe it is a holiday such as Grandparents' Day, Secretaries' Day, or Thanksgiving. Whatever the occasion, flowers can be an important part of a celebration.

Much of the floral industry's business is seasonal, revolving around holidays and other special occasions. Many holidays, such as Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, are associated particularly with the giving and receiving of flowers; these are sometimes referred to as floral holidays because of the significant increase in sales just prior to and during these days. Since flowers convey messages of love, friendship, and respect, they are an important part of sentimental holidays.

Seasonal Themes

Often a floral bouquet may be designed to portray a particular season. Spring, summer, autumn, and winter are each associated with various colors and types of flowers, as shown in Figure 13-1. Although most commercially grown flowers are available year-round, some are unique or abundant during one season or another. Some plants like acacia or spring-flowering branches, because they only grow outdoors, are called seasonal flowers and are limited to the plant's natural growth and flowering cycles.


Other flowers like tulips, zinnias, or poinsettias, are generally associated with a season of the year, and they are also called seasonal flowers. Such flowers give variety and distinction to everyday designs.


Floral arrangements representing spring are made in a rainbow of colorful flowers. Pastel and intense colors, as well as the complementary combination of purple and yellow, are all common to spring designs. Colorful bulb flowers begin to show themselves in the garden-crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips. Unique to spring are flowering branches of forsythia, quince, and decorative fruit tree and shrub blossoms. Fluffy masses of acacia, lilac, snowball, and catkins of willow, birch, and alder add unique textures to spring designs.

Spring flowers usually call for informal treatment in floral designs. Often a simple glass vase or a charming basket are natural choices to hold the masses of flowers.


Summer is generally the longest of the floral seasons; its flowers are also the most vibrant in color. Bright blue delphiniums and cornflowers, vivid red peonies and roses, radiant orange calendulas and zinnias, and glowing golden lilies and sunflowers are just a few of the hundreds of richly colored flowers available during the summer.

Wildflowers and tall grasses of varying colors, textures, and shapes are natural fillers in summer arrangements. Vases featuring bright colors or bold textures and forms harmonize well with the array of bright color.

Full massed and overflowing bouquets of mixed garden flowers are common for summer designs. Take advantage of all the lovely flowers growing outdoors that are yours for the asking and mix them with commercial flowers to make full bouquets.


The brightly colored flowers of summer give way to the warm deep hues of reds, oranges, golds, and browns in the autumn, the predominant colors in typical autumn bouquets. Chrysanthemums, dahlias, and gladiolus are all long-lasting flowers abounding in the fall months. Since autumn is the time of the harvest, colorful vegetables and fruit are often combined with flowers. Wheat, barley, and other grains, as well as thistles and branches of autumn-colored leaves, work well in harvest bouquets.

Autumn is the season for natural-looking vases: baskets, earthenware pots, terra cotta bowls, and wooden trays. Their warm tones help to harmonize with the flowers in warm colors.


Winter affords fewer flowers in the garden. However, evergreen and conifer trees and shrubs retain their foliage throughout the year. Junipers, pines, cedars, yews, and mahonia are just a few of the greens available. Foliage designs can add beauty with their extreme colors and textures. The differences in foliages emerge when various types are juxtaposed with one another. Some appear blue, gray, or silver, while others appear golden or reddish-brown.

Cones and berries are the flowers of winter. Berries abound in just about every color. The bright red berries of cotoneaster, skimmia, and holly contrast strikingly with a variety of foliage. People who live in frosty climates may wish to supplement the foliage, cones, and berries with the wide range of year-round commercially grown flowers available from around the world. Containers that are simple and muted in color reinforce the colors and textures of the foliage, berries, and flowers.

Take advantage of the various seasonal flowers and foliages when they are plentiful. As a designer you can make a name for yourself by experimenting with the seasonal plant materials available. In combination with florist flowers, the possibilities in design are endless.

Floral Holidays

Table 13-1 is a calendar of the civil holidays and various other popular days observed in the United States. Many of these days are associated with the giving and receiving of flowers; however, some days are more geared to simply using flowers as decorations or tributes. Flowers that are a form of celebration in themselves can play a large part in these special occasions.

Major and Regional Floral Holidays

Christmas is actually the largest floral holiday of the year since flowers, plants, and decorations are needed during the five weeks prior to Christmas Day. Most of the other major floral holidays involve only a single day. Two of the days that florists consider the busiest are Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. Other major floral occasions include Easter, Thanksgiving, and Secretaries' Day.

The use of flowers for gifts or decorations is often regional or local, meaning that flower shops in one area will be swamped with business for a particular holiday, whereas in another area that same holiday is not associated with the use of flowers. Such holidays are called regional holidays.

Often flower giving and floral decorating is determined according to the historical background and religious or cultural makeup of a geographical area. For instance, in several areas, Memorial Day is extremely busy for florists, especially where national military cemeteries are located. Similarly, florists located in areas with large populations of a certain religion or culture in which decorating graves is traditionally an important custom will also experience greater sales on Memorial Day.

Another example of the regional sales of flowers is St. Patrick's Day. Floral shops located in cities with a large number of people of Irish descent, such as New York and Boston, generally find St. Patrick's Day to be an important sales period.

Along with cultural and religious special occasions, many holidays recognize and honor individuals such as secretaries or teachers for diligent service. Other holidays focus on relationships with people: grandparents, parents, friends, and neighbors.

In order for you to understand the popular flowers and types of arrangements that are associated with many floral holidays, it will be beneficial for you to know the history, background, and dates of celebration for each. This information, in many cases, will help give you a better understanding as to why certain colors, accessories, and design styles are popular. In addition to discussing the well-known floral holidays, other less popular flower-giving days such as Groundhog Day, Columbus Day, and Mother-in-law Day are also included. These and many other lesser-known days can become fun days for people to express feelings and emotion through the gift of flowers. Through its promotional efforts, the floral industry can help people enjoy the beauty of arrangements more frequently.

New Year's Day

January 1, the first day of the calendar year, is a nationwide holiday in the United States known as New Year's Day. However, people in almost every country celebrate this day as a public holiday.

New Year's celebrations begin on December 31 with festive parties in anticipation of the beginning of the new year. These noisy, happy celebrations have their roots in the early beliefs of pagan people who believed evil spirits were all around. To prevent these spirits from entering the new year, it was common to ring the church bells, causing a ruckus. From this activity comes the popular expression "ring in the New Year." Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a carnival-like celebration prevailed with drinking and loud noises from not only bells, but whistles and horns as well.

The noisemakers and fireworks of today are reminiscent of those early customs of using noise to turn away evil spirits and keep them from entering the new year. Today both formal and informal parties and dinner dances, including masquerade balls, are also traditional activities during the evening. This wide variety of activities invites an equally broad range of floral arrangements. Therefore, in addition to the more elegant floral arrangements for formal gatherings, New Year's Eve bouquets can also reflect fun-loving celebrations with the addition of many accessories, including glittery party hats and horns, balloons, confetti, and streamers.

In contrast to the pagans' fearful celebration of the new year, the Romans in 153 B.C. were the first to celebrate the New Year's Day. They believed that commencing on the first day of January, each person's life would begin with a clean slate; the previous year's events would be erased, signaling a fresh beginning. To symbolize this new opportunity for growth, the ancient Romans gave each other New Year's gifts of branches from sacred trees. In later years, gold-covered coins were exchanged, imprinted with pictures of Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings. Janus had two faces, one looking forward and the other looking backward.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the well-known symbols of the New Year's baby and the gray-bearded Father Time bearing a scythe became popular. Both of these symbols are often incorporated into New Year's Day party floral arrangements.

Traditionally, New Year's Day is a time for personal stocktaking, for making New Year's resolutions to break bad habits and setting goals for the coming year. Celebrations are both festive and serious. Today many Americans devote part of New Year's Day to visiting friends and relatives, giving gifts, attending religious services, and watching parades in person or on television, such as the Mummers' Parade in Philadelphia and the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California (see Figure 13-2). For many people, a good portion of the day is devoted to watching football games and attending parties to watch football games.

Floral arrangements designed for New Year's Day vary according to the purpose for which they are intended. Whether they are decorations designed for a religious service or for a football-watching party, or a simple hand bouquet to give to a friend, fresh flower arrangements are always appropriate as a message of renewal, happiness, joy, and hope for a new beginning. Cheery bright colors, football team colors, or even all white are common color schemes for New Year's floral designs.

In areas that are populated with people of Chinese origin, the Chinese New Year lasts for four days. It begins at sunset on the day of the second New Moon following the winter solstice, which always occurs sometime between January 21 and February 19. Celebrations include elaborate meals, fireworks, and a parade of colorful dragons.

The color red is one of good omens in the Chinese culture and is believed to ward off evil spirits. Red flowers are used in floral bouquets for centerpieces and other decorations to celebrate the new year to complement other nonfloral decorations.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), an African-American Baptist minister, was the main leader of the civil rights movement in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for leading nonviolent civil rights demonstrations, he was nevertheless the target of violence and was shot and killed at the age of 39. King became the second American whose birthday is observed as a national holiday, the first being President George Washington. Also commonly called Civil Rights Day and Human Rights Day, this holiday is celebrated on the third Monday in January in observance of King's birthday (January 15).

Floral tributes, wreaths, and decorations are used in celebrations and festivities honoring King and other civil rights leaders in Arlington, Virginia, and many other cities across the nation.

Spouse's Day

The fourth Friday in January is annually set aside in celebration of one's spouse. Husbands and wives are encouraged to share jobs, roles, and responsibilities to better understand and appreciate each other. Although not a well-known holiday, it is still an opportune time to convey love and appreciation with a gift of flowers.

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is based on a custom brought to America by people from Germany and Great Britain. They believed that February 2 was a time for forecasting the weather for the next six weeks. According to legend, the groundhog or woodchuck comes out of hibernation on this day. If he sees his shadow, he supposedly returns to his hole for six more weeks of winter weather. If the weather is cloudy when the groundhog comes out of his hole and he cannot see his shadow, according to legend, spring weather will soon come.

Groundhog Day is an ideal time to celebrate an oncoming spring with daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths. Dormant branches of forsythia, quince, and other flowering varieties once cut from trees and shrubs can be encouraged to blossom in warm preservative solution. (See Chapter 10 for more information on flowering branches that are easily forced to bloom.) Giving a friend a bouquet of "sticks" on Groundhog Day that will soon become colorful and fragrant sends a message of happy anticipation for an early spring.

Lincoln's Birthday

The majority of states celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865). Born on February 12, the sixteenth president of the United States is remembered and honored at many formal dinners and celebrations throughout the country. Red, white, and blue floral arrangements, along with bunting and flags, are traditional and familiar means of commemorating this holiday.

Valentine's Day

Several theories attempt to explain the origin of Valentine's Day. Some authorities trace the origin to Lupercalia, an ancient Roman festival and feast connected with fertility rites held on February 15. Others connect the event with one or more saints of the early Christian church, one of whom was named Valentine. According to legend, he was imprisoned because he refused to worship the gods of the Romans. He had made friends with many children who missed their friend and expressed their love by tossing notes through the bars of his cell window. Another theory believed by many is linked to an old English legend that says birds choose their mates on February 14.

The celebration of Valentine's Day on February 14 is one of the most widely observed unofficial holidays, which is one of the busiest for the floral industry. Expressions of love and admiration are often exchanged on this day through flowers, particularly through roses, the most requested flower for Valentine floral bouquets (especially red roses, which have long symbolized "true love"). Long-stemmed roses are a traditional favorite, in bouquets or boxes of one dozen.

Arranging a dozen roses in a vase, as shown in Figure 13-3, is relatively simple to do if you begin with the proper foundation, allowing all the long stems to stay in place. When using a clear vase, remember to keep the mechanics to a minimum. Foliage grids eliminate the worry of hiding unsightly tape or chicken wire (see Chapter 8). Once the foundation is ready and weak rose stems are strengthened with green wire, the roses can be put in place. Arrange the flowers to form a pleasing outer arrangement shape, keeping all stems as long as possible. A variety of foliages can then be added as well as a touch of filler flowers to help accent the roses. Bows and other accessories can be added to help convey the Valentine's Day theme of love.



Because red roses on Valentine's Day are in highest demand, prices increase. Therefore, other colors of roses, as well as all other types and colors of flowers, are also in demand.

The most popular color scheme on Valentine's Day is monochromatic with red and various value and intensity levels of red. Pastel and hot florescent pinks, dusty mauves, and deep maroons in various combinations with one another and in combination with white and cream for pleasing contrasts are traditional.

Common accessories include hearts and cupids. Hearts can be inexpensively made with chenille stems to help trim bouquets (see Figure 134). An imaginative floral designer can also devise more accessories to decorate bouquets and at the same time convey a clever message of love, as shown in Figure 13-5.

Washington's Birthday

George Washington, the first president of the United States, was born on February 22, 1732. His birthday is celebrated as a federal holiday on the third Monday in February. This holiday is often called Presidents' Day in honor of both Washington and Abraham Lincoln as well as other presidents of the United States. Floral decorations and tributes are generally in the patriotic colors of red, white, and blue.


International Women's Day

Also called International Working Women's Day, this day is said to commemorate a New York City march and demonstration by female garment and textile workers in 1857. It is believed to have been first proclaimed for this date at an international conference of women in 1910, held in Helsinki, Finland.

This holiday has recently become more widely recognized in the United States, and although originating in the United States, it is well known and observed internationally. Many nations, including the People's Republic of China (where it is a national holiday), honor working women with flowers and other gifts.

St. Patrick's Day

Although St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17 as both a holiday and holy day, it is not known exactly how or when this holiday began, only that it is an occasion for the Irish to enthusiastically pay tribute to their homeland. St. Patrick was a missionary to Ireland in the fifth century who brought Christianity to the Irish people. According to legend, St. Patrick explained the idea of the trinity to the Irish people by using a shamrock or a clover with three leaflets.

This day is a national holiday in Ireland and is also widely celebrated in other countries in areas having large concentrations of people of Irish descent. In the United States, St. Patrick's Day, a festive day encompassing parties, parades, and the wearing of the green, was first celebrated in Boston in 1737. The biggest St. Patrick's Day parade is held in New York City.


Flowers for boutonnieres, corsages, centerpieces, and party decorations are traditionally green. The flowers can be naturally green (Bells of Ireland, gladiolus, and cymbidium orchids) as well as dyed (carnations and gypsophila); white flowers can be spray painted green for harmonizing with the theme. The use of varieties of foliage as well as all-foliage arrangements make distinctive and unique designs. Many accessories are featured in these theme arrangements, including green hats, pipes, shamrocks, and leprechauns.


Easter, one of the most important days of the Christian calendar, commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because this religious day in the spring celebrates new life, many churches are decorated with arrangements of Easter lilies and spring bouquets.

The date of Easter varies from year to year, but it is always on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the first day of spring (the vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring on March 20 or 21). This means that Easter can occur on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25.

Easter floral arrangements are designed in a variety of formal or informal styles. Many display a religious theme using the traditional Easter lilies, while others show secular themes with emphasis placed on the spring season or commercial Easter activities and symbols. Accessories include bunnies, chicks, and colored eggs, and arrangements may be placed in novelty containers as well as traditional baskets (see Figure 13-6). Daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths with flowering branches all convey a spring, as well as an Easter, theme.

Professional Secretaries' Week

Professional Secretaries' Week is set aside to honor, show appreciation for, and thank both male and female secretaries. This week was inspired by the president of the National Secretaries Association as a way of recognizing the integrity and improving the image of secretaries everywhere. In 1952 the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Charles Sawyer, declared the first National Secretaries' Day and week in June. The dates changed in 1955, so that today this holiday is observed annually in the United States the last full week in April from Sunday to Saturday. The Wednesday during that week is designated as Professional Secretaries' Day.

Since most secretaries have limited space on their desks in which to place floral bouquets, many floral arrangements are designed in coffee mugs or other small novelty containers. Small baskets and narrow vases are also common. Whatever container is used, it should be stable and hold an adequate supply of water. The arrangement must not interfere with the work space on the desk. Clever accessories help make these bouquets even more enjoyable. Pens, pencils, and other office supplies, as well as candy, small picture frames, gift certificates, and balloons, are all often included in designs for secretaries (see Figure 13-7).

May Day

May Day was originally established in a Roman festival called Floralia, in honor of Flora, the mythological Roman goddess of flowers and spring. This day signified the changing of the seasons.

In medieval times, May Day was the favorite day of celebration for many English villages. Flowers were gathered and people decorated their churches and homes. On May 1, villagers danced around a Maypole, holding the ends of ribbons that were attached to the top of the pole. As they danced around the pole, the ribbons became beautifully intertwined. A May queen was selected and crowned with a floral wreath.


In the nineteenth century, May baskets filled with fresh flowers and candy were secretly hung on the doors of friends and neighbors expressing friendship and romance.

In the United States, the Puritans frowned on May Day and, as a result, it has never been celebrated with the same vigor as it is in areas of Great Britain. However, in many American cities, May Day parties with festive Maypoles and dancing are traditional.

In making May baskets, arrangements should reflect the gathering of flowers with a casual, unstructured look. Colorful floral wreath centerpieces as well as miniature maypoles with colorful ribbons are appropriate for party decorations.

PTA Teacher Appreciation Week

The National Congress of Parents and Teachers, commonly called the National PTA, is a volunteer organization helping to unite the forces of home, school, and community to promote the welfare of children. Local PTA units serve in individual elementary, middle, junior high, and high schools, with approximately 27,000 local PTAs across the United States and about six and one-half million members.

PTA Teacher Appreciation Week is celebrated the first full week (from Sunday to Saturday) in May. This week is devoted to honoring and supporting teachers and the teaching profession. Many local PTA units honor teachers by giving them flowers, including corsages, boutonnieres, and arrangements (see Figure 13-8). Accessories such as chalk, erasers, pencils, apples, and balloons are often added to these designs.


Mother's Day

Mother's Day, an important floral holiday in the United States as well as many other countries, is a day set aside to honor mothers and motherhood. The history of Mother's Day is actually a series of events. The first known suggestion for a Mother's Day in the United States was made by Julia Ward Howe in 1872. Several other people later rallied and launched campaigns and celebrations for the observance of Mother's Day. However, it was Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia, who in 1907 began a campaign for a nationwide observance of Mother's Day; she is, therefore, credited as being the founder of Mother's Day. In 1914 Congress designated the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.

In some regions it is a custom to wear a carnation on Mother's Day (a red carnation symbolizes appreciation and love for a living mother; a white carnation symbolizes love and respect for a mother who has passed away). In many regions popular colors for floral bouquets are those in the tints and shades of pink and lavender (see Figure 13-9).


Whether a floral gift is a single wrapped rose, a colorful corsage, a basket of mixed flowers, a flowering plant, or a dozen roses in a crystal vase, a gift of flowers will convey a pure message of love and appreciation on this special occasion.

Armed Forces Day

Established in 1950 by President Harry S Truman, Armed Forces Day honors all branches of the armed forces in the United States. It is celebrated on the third Saturday of May with military exercises on land, at sea, and in the air. Floral decorations, wreaths, and centerpieces help celebrate this day, and are generally made with red, white, and blue flowers.

Memorial Day

A legal public holiday in the United States, Memorial Day is observed the last Monday in May. This patriotic day was established to honor all Americans who have given their lives for their country, although originally this day honored those who died in the Civil War. Some southern States also have their own days for honoring their Confederate dead. Many countries also designate a day each year for decorating graves with flowers and flags (hence the name "Decoration Day").

Military exercises and programs are held at national cemeteries. Red, white, and blue floral tributes, wreaths, and other decorations repeat the pattern set by the national flags that are placed on thousands of graves.

In some areas of the country, decorating the graves of loved ones on Memorial Day (see Figure 13-10) is a popular activity for the day, and for many, a great deal of planning goes into the selection of colors and styles of floral tributes. While floral tributes vary, the most common designs are hand-tied bouquets, flat sprays, large radiating bouquets, and easel pieces in various shapes, as well as potted chrysanthemums.


Flag Day

Another patriotic holiday, Flag Day, is celebrated on June 14 in commemoration of the day when the Stars and Stripes was adopted as the official flag of the United States. Although Flag Day is not an official national holiday, it is proclaimed every year by the president of the United States and widely observed. Flag Week is designated the week from Sunday to Saturday that includes June 14.

Floral tributes are often made to look like the national flag. Red, white, and blue hand-tied bouquets and other floral decorations are also popular.

Father's Day

One of the first known requests for a specific day to honor fathers was made by Sonora Louise Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington. After listening to a sermon on Mother's Day in 1909, she wanted to honor her own father, William Jackson Smart. He raised six children on his own after the death of his wife in 1898. Sonora Dodd recommended the adoption of a national father's day. Through her efforts the first Father's Day was celebrated in Spokane on June 19, 1910.

Many people tried over the years to make this day an official national holiday, but it was not until 1972, when President Richard M. Nixon proclaimed the third Sunday in June to be Father's Day, that it became a national day of recognition. The United States and Canada both celebrate Father's Day on this day.

In recognizing and honoring fathers, many people often give floral gifts to their fathers. Potted plants and dish gardens are popular florist gift items for Father's Day, and favorite floral arrangements for fathers include the bold, daring tropical flowers or other arrangements in the warm colors.

Accessories that suggest a favorite hobby are commonly placed in the floral design, adding areas of emphasis and accent. The addition of creative accessories can set arrangements and dish gardens that you design apart from all others. For instance, the addition of golf balls, golf tees, fishing lures, gardening tools, slippers, or even a tie can make a clever, more interesting design.

Independence Day

The United States celebrates its own birthday every year on July 4. This day commemorates the anniversary of the day on which the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. Independence Day was first celebrated on July 8, 1776, in Philadelphia. Since that time, Independence Day has been widely celebrated with parades, pageants, picnics, and parties. The day concludes in most cities with colorful fireworks. Congress declared July 4 to be a federal legal holiday in 1941.

Red, white, and blue flowers are popular for Independence Day festivities and decorations. Hand-tied bouquets as well as centerpieces often incorporate the use of tiny American flags. Remember, as you mix flowers in the red, blue, and white hues, use red in lesser amounts because of its intense, dramatic qualities. Too much red may overwhelm the blues and whites.

Friendship Day

A regional holiday, Friendship Day, is an unofficial day set aside to honor friendships and show appreciation to others by expressing thanks, respect, and honor, often through giving flowers and other gifts. Friendship Day is a day to follow the advice of Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), a great English writer and philosopher who advised, "A man should keep his friendships in constant repair." This day was approved by Congress in 1935 for the first Sunday in August of each year.


Colorful summer flowers in hand-tied bouquets as well as wrapped flowers are popular gifts among friends (see Figure 13-11).

Labor Day

A day set aside to honor working people, Labor Day is a legal holiday in the United States and Canada, and is observed on the first Monday in September. First celebrated in New York City in September 1882, Labor Day was signed into law as a national holiday in 1894 by President Grover Cleveland.

Labor Day for most people is a day of rest and recreation, symbolizing the end of summer. Although flowers are generally not associated with Labor Day, colorful floral centerpieces add a festive touch for end-of-the-summer parties.

National Grandparents' Day

National Grandparents' Day is observed annually on the first Sunday in September following Labor Day. This day, first observed in 1978 and proclaimed as an annual event in 1979, recognizes and honors grandparents and older people in general.

This day, like many others, is fairly regional; that is, it is more popular and successful in certain areas than in others. Floral arrangements in various styles and colors are given as a token of love, honor, and respect for grandparents (see Figure 13-12).


National Good Neighbor Day

Although not a well-known day, National Good Neighbor Day, unofficially observed on the fourth Sunday in September, is a day set aside to show appreciation for the good people who live nearby. A day of promoting respect and understanding for our fellow human beings, National Good Neighbor Day is an ideal time to promote communication and friendship with a memorable gift of flowers.

Columbus Day

Although not thought of as a floral holiday, floral decorations and centerpieces can help celebrate festivities on Columbus Day, which is a public holiday in most countries in the Americas. First observed in the United States on October 12, 1934, Columbus Day is the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's (1451-1506) arrival in the New World on October 12, 1492. Since 1971, Columbus Day has been observed on the second Monday in October.

National Boss Day

A day set aside to honor employers and supervisors, National Boss Day is recognized throughout the United States and Canada annually on October 16. This day was originated by Patricia Bays Haroski, a secretary, who was impressed with how well her boss treated her and the other employees in the company.

Boutonnieres and corsages are popular floral gifts for bosses, as well as arrangements, plants, and dish garden.

Sweetest Day

Observed annually on the third Saturday in October, Sweetest Day is a day named for recognizing and honoring those who have been "sweet" or kind and helpful throughout the year. Sweetest Day is said to have its beginning in the 1930s when a man from Cleveland, Ohio, wanted to do something special for forgotten orphan children and lonely shut-in people.

Sweetest Day is enthusiastically celebrated in various regions throughout the United States, while in some areas it is virtually unknown. Floral gifts of all types, similar to those given on Valentine's Day, are given to friends and sweethearts. Sugar cubes or candy incorporated into a floral arrangement help to convey the "sweet" message of friendship and love.

Mother-in-law Day

A special day set aside to honor and thank the mother of one's spouse is held annually on the fourth Sunday in October. This day, like many others, is regional and more celebrated in certain parts of the country. A gift of flowers is a thoughtful gesture that is always welcome and may serve to strengthen family relationships.


Halloween, held annually on October 31, developed from ancient new year festivals and festivals of the dead, combining Christian customs and Druid autumn festivals. (Druids were a Celtic religious order of priests and soothsayers in ancient Britain, Ireland, and France.) The celebration historically marked the beginning of the season of cold, darkness, and decay, a time associated with death. Later when pagan customs became part of this Christian holy day, the Christian church established All Saints' Day, held on November 1. The church then began to honor the dead on All Souls' Day, held on November 2.


Many early American settlers brought their various Halloween customs with them. However, it was not until the 1800s that Halloween celebrations became popular. Customs such as carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, bobbing for apples, dressing in costumes, and trick-or-treating are still popular activities to help celebrate Halloween. Floral arrangements for decorations and gifts are often made in novelty containers with the addition of miniature scary witches, black cats, ghosts, spiders, and cobwebs. Popular color schemes are orange and black or autumn colors. A unique container you may choose to use during the Halloween and autumn season is a real pumpkin (see Figure 13-13).

Veterans Day

Veterans Day, a legal federal holiday in the United States, is held annually on November 11. President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 proclaimed this day (formerly called Armistice Day) to remind Americans of the tragedies of war. This day is set aside to honor and give recognition to the men and women who have served in the United States armed services. Other countries, such as Canada and Great Britain, have a similar day of honor.

Celebrations in the United States include speeches and parades, and special services are held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

Floral wreaths and other tributes, often in the patriotic colors of the national flag, are used at special activities on Veterans Day.


Thanksgiving is a family day set aside each year as a time for feasting and giving thanks. Thanksgiving Day is commemorative of the Pilgrims' celebration of the good harvest of 1621 shared with Indians in Plymouth. Similar harvest Thanksgivings were held in Plymouth for several years.

The custom of celebrating the harvest spread from Plymouth to other New England colonies. Eventually, many states had their own Thanksgiving days. Several people, including Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving.

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Thanksgiving Day one week earlier to promote business by lengthening the shopping period before Christmas. After 1941, Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday, was observed on the fourth Thursday of November.

Canada also celebrates Thanksgiving Day in a manner similar to the United States. In 1957, the Canadian government proclaimed the second Monday in October as Thanksgiving Day.

Popular floral decorations for Thanksgiving are designs that represent a full and abundant harvest. The cornucopia, or horn of plenty, is a symbol of abundance and nature's plenty. Often filled with fruits, vegetables, grains, grasses, and autumn-colored flowers and foliage, it has become a popular decoration and centerpiece for the Thanksgiving Day table (see Figure 13-14).

Because most flower arrangements will be used as centerpieces, the height and width need to be kept within reasonable and functional bounds. Candles offer a warm glow at the table and may be added to these floral designs without obstructing the view of guests.

Novelty accessories are often included in these harvest designs to suggest a Thanksgiving or autumn theme. Birds, nests, and novelty turkeys, pilgrims, and Indians, nuts, berries, Indian corn, gourds, and a colorful array of fruits and vegetables can be used individually or in combination to create and enhance the style and theme of a design.



Christmas is the most popular Christian holiday. The date, December 25, was probably influenced by early pagan festivals and adapted from the Roman calendar in the fourth century. The word "Christmas" comes from the early English phrase Cristes maesse meaning "mass of Christ." The Christmas celebration centers on the events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ as told in the New Testament.

Many celebrations depict a nativity scene, also called a creche, with the infant Christ, Mary, and Joseph, with shepherds, wise men, and various animals surrounding the holy family. Many Christians participate in religious services on Christmas Eve or Day.

The Christmas season typically begins following Thanksgiving. For many Christians, the Christmas season begins on the Sunday nearest November 30, marking the first day of Advent, which refers to the coming of Jesus on Christmas Day. Many Christians decorate their homes with an Advent wreath, Advent calendar, or Advent candles.

Many customs, decorations, and activities from non-Christian festivals have been adopted as part of the Christmas celebration, such as belief in Santa Claus; decorations of lights, evergreen trees, wreaths, holly, and ivy; and participation in activities such as feasting, caroling, and gift-giving.


No other holiday season inspires the use of flowers and foliage as does the Christmas season. More so at Christmas than at any other season, florists are key suppliers to many of the decorations associated with Christmas, especially fresh arrangements, wreaths, and garlands. Decorated poinsettia plants and gift baskets designed by a floral designer are also in high demand during the season (see Figure 13-15).

Green and red are the traditional colors of Christmas, both highly symbolic to Christians. Green signifies everlasting or eternal life through Jesus Christ. Red represents the blood that Christ shed while being crucified. Green and red are often mixed with the metallic silver, gold, brass, and copper. In addition, deep shades of red, blue, and green represent a rich winter theme.

The Christmas season can be expressed through a variety of themes and styles of design. Whether the theme is religious, wintery, youthful, or fun, accessories can be added to designs to enhance the message or style. Popular accessories include such items as shiny glass balls, candles, ribbons, cones, berries, fruit, birds, candy canes, figurines, and novelties (such as Santa, reindeer, shiny packages, and elves).

Christmas wreaths can easily be made with a wire frame, a variety of foliages, and spool and straight wires (see figures 13-16 through 13-20). Wreaths for centerpieces can be made in the same manner, or they may be designed in wet foam to keep the foliage from drying out throughout the season.






Religious Feasts and Festivals

Along with the popular Christian special occasions such as Easter and Christmas and the Jewish holidays such as Passover and Hanukkah, there are many other special days celebrated annually by religions across the United States and the world. Important festivals are observed by Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and other religious faiths. As a floral designer, it is important to be aware of special religious days and traditions that may require floral gifts and decorations.

Feasts and festivals are important times of celebration. Most of them take place annually and may last for several days. Many feasts celebrate a harvest, the beginning of a season or a new year, or honor great leaders, saints, gods, or spirits. Other feasts celebrate the anniversary of an important historical event. Although some are solemn, most feasts and festivals are happy and joyous occasions, many of which require floral decorations.

Special Occasions of States and Nations of the World

Most states and nations set aside one or more days each year as public holidays, often recognizing the anniversary of an important historical event or the birthday of a significant person in the past or present. These dates may vary from year to year or may be the same date each year. These special days often are marked with parties and parades in which the use of floral gifts and decorations are important.

Theme Designs for Special Occasions

In addition to traditional holidays, other special occasions occur throughout the year. Many of these occasions are associated with the giving of flowers, for instance, the birth of a baby, a birthday, graduation ceremony, or wedding anniversary. Flowers are a symbolic sharing of another's happiness.

New Baby

Floral designs help celebrate the birth of a child. Because we associate pink with femininity and blue with masculinity, color schemes in pastel pink generally symbolize the birth of a baby girl while light blue is commonly used for the birth of a baby boy. Flowers such as spray carnations, sweetheart roses, daisies, sweet peas, and button mums, combined with delicate filler flowers, such as baby's breath, waxflower, and heather are popular for baby arrangements because they are smaller and in scale to these petite designs. However, grand rose arrangements, as shown in Figure 13-21 and other large designs, are also popular for honoring not only the new baby, but the mother as well.

Baby designs are often made in novelty ceramic containers. Although accessories common to new baby arrangements include rattles, bottles, bibs, balloons, and plush toy animals, don't limit your thinking to just using teddy bears and rattles. New baby arrangements can vary from the usual darling and cute all the way to high style and gorgeous.



To many, there is no greater gift on a birthday than receiving fresh flowers. Mixed floral arrangements, rose designs, boxed flowers, hand-tied bouquets, and even corsages and boutonnieres can all express good wishes and cheerful sentiments for someone on this special day.

A birthday bouquet often incorporates brightly colored flowers, party horns and hats, and streamers, as shown in Figure 13-22. Balloon bouquets are also popular with flowers. Receiving fresh flowers on a birthday is a memorable gift, not easily forgotten.


Graduation is an important sentimental time, signifying accomplishment and new beginnings. From elementary school to high school and college, flowers are often given to a graduate to express congratulations (see Figure 13-23). Flowers have long been powerful expressions of best wishes of another's success and may be given in a variety of styles, for instance, arrangements, boxed flowers, wrapped flowers, and leis.


An anniversary may be any date on which a memorable event has occurred, such as an engagement, wedding, office opening, or other occasion or activity. Floral gifts and centerpieces can help to celebrate any type of anniversary party celebration.



Many couples celebrate their wedding anniversaries with festive parties and floral gifts. Many women, and men as well, find nothing more romantic than a gift of beautifully fragrant, fresh flowers from a spouse. Some couples carry on a tradition of giving each other the same number of flowers as the number of years they have been married.

Anniversary parties and dinners are often held for couples who have been married for a certain number of years, such as 25 or 50. The 25th anniversary is often called the silver anniversary and the 50th anniversary is referred to as the golden anniversary. Accessories and containers used to make floral decorations for these special anniversary parties may be selected either in silver or golden colors to help enhance the 25th or 50th theme (see Figure 13-24).


Recognition and Honor

Floral arrangements and gifts of flowers are often used to honor an individual for achievements such as reaching a certain age or retirement. Individuals may also be distinguished with gifts of flowers for acts of heroism or praiseworthy service.

Presentation bouquets, sometimes called queen's bouquets or arm bouquets, are popular gifts to help recognize people for the performance of certain duties or activities, such as athletics, beauty contests, or cultural performances. Presentation bouquets are generally one-sided and tall, with the individual flower heads spread apart (see Figure 13-25).


Hand-tied bouquets, also called European hand-tied bouquets and Dutch spiral bouquets, generally appear the same on all sides, and are most often massed and rounded. The rounded tight cluster of the entire bouquet is the emphasis, and individual flowers often lose their focus (see figures 1326 and 13-27).



Hospital Designs

A hospital stay or time recuperating at home is often brightened with a gift of flowers (see Figure 13-28). Flowers may communicate a happy and joyous "Congratulations" for a new baby, or a more solemn and serious message. Flowers may express a tender "Hang in there," "Thinking of you," or "Wishing you a speedy recovery."

Whatever the message for a hospital arrangement, a few practical guidelines of construction and design will assist you as you select containers, flowers, foliages, and accessories, and decide on a shape and style of arrangement.

An important scale consideration is the size of the floral design, since hospital rooms are generally small with limited space for displaying a floral bouquet. When floral arrangements are too large, they consume too much space and can be a nuisance to hospital personnel. But just because the flower arrangements must generally be kept small does not mean they need to look cheap and boring. As you consider the parts of the bouquet, allow individual blossoms to be seen; use fewer flowers in the design, or use a few showy, tropical flowers. For an impressive display, use some tall, long-stemmed flowers, rather than cutting them short.

Hospital arrangements must be "low maintenance," that is, the flowers must be arranged in a container or vase and should not be "loose." For example, a dozen roses in a box or a hand-tied bouquet without a vase are inappropriate as the patient will not have access to a proper size vase nor should the patient have to worry about arranging flowers. Containers and vases should allow an adequate water supply for the flowers (especially for the duration of the patient's stay) or one that can have water easily added, if necessary, for longer periods of time. Generally, hospitals lack the personnel to care for flowers properly, and the patient should not have to worry about adding water to the design.

It is also important to select flowers and foliages that are maintenance-free and long lasting. Flowers and foliages that droop and shed are not suitable in the hospital setting. If lilies are used in designs, remove the pollen-covered anthers which will stain skin and clothing. Avoid flowers with a strong fragrance (which may cause nausea to the patient).


Fragrance is generally an added pleasure of flowers, but in a small, warm hospital room it can be overpowering to a weakened patient.

Most hospitals welcome floral arrangements, and hospital employees realize the benefit of flowers to the morale of the patients. However, it is helpful to understand hospital rules and regulations. For example, latex balloons are generally not permitted in hospitals (because of allergic reactions experienced by some people to the latex) and flowers and plants are usually not allowed in the intensive care units (in an effort to keep the area clean and sterile).


Novelty Designs

Sometimes a certain situation or a special occasion will require a novelty design. Novelty designs are different, one-of-a-kind floral arrangements that fascinate the young and impress the young-at-heart (see figures 13-29 and 13-30). Often made entirely out of flower heads, novelty designs offer a whimsical, delightful way of expressing a theme or message. Because these designs are made with short-stemmed or broken flowers and are fairly quick and easy to make, they are cost-effective and profitable for the floral designer. Time-tested and popular, the ice cream soda novelty design comes complete with scoops of vanilla and strawberry "ice cream" and is topped with a red rose "cherry." Other novelty favorites include kittens, dogs, bunnies, ladybugs, caterpillars, worms, snakes, clowns, and birthday cakes.

Novelty designs must have a sturdy, functional foundation, that will not tip, spill water, or cause the flowers to wilt prematurely. Soaked floral foam can easily be sculpted with a knife to create the foundation of countless charming animals and delectable desserts. Chenille stems, plastic eyes and noses, ribbon, and other accessories can be glued onto, or inserted into, the flowers to add further detail.



Expressing Sentiments with Flowers

Flowers are a versatile gift that can touch the human heart and transcend speech; many thoughts and feelings can be expressed more easily with flowers than they can with any other gift (see Figure 13-31). It has been said that flowers speak an international language, understood by all peoples of the world.

Flowers have a unique ability to express sincere, honest emotion without the use of words. Flowers have power to shout "I love you" or "Have a happy day." They can say "Thank you" or "I appreciate your friendship." Flowers can express tender emotions by whispering "Please forgive me," or "My thoughts are with you," or simply "You're not alone."

When designing a floral arrangement, consider the message that the bouquet will be "speaking" to the recipient (see Figure 13-32). Understanding the message will help you select more carefully not only the flowers and foliages, but the container, accessories, and the total style and look of the bouquet.



Floral decorations and arrangements can be designed to go with a season, color scheme, or special occasion. Flowers can help celebrate religious, civic, and cultural events. As a floral designer, you can create an environment at parties, celebrations, and religious ceremonies. Special occasions take place daily. Flowers help make these occasions more unique and memorable.

Terms to Increase Your Understanding

arm bouquet

chenille stem

floral holiday

golden anniversary

hand-tied bouquet

novelty design

presentation bouquet

queen's bouquet

regional holiday

seasonal flowers

silver anniversary

Test Your Knowledge

1. Name popular flowers, foliages, accessories, containers, and color schemes that depict the seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

2. What are the major floral holidays?

3. What are some regional holidays?

4. What is the rule that sets the date for Easter each year?

5. What are some important guidelines of design for hospital arrangements?

Related Activities

1. Visit a floral shop before a floral holiday. Notice the variety of styles and shapes of bouquets on display.

2. Assemble a design scrapbook of pictures of seasonal and holiday floral designs.

3. Make a hand-tied bouquet with a special theme or recipient in mind.

4. Design and assemble a presentation bouquet for a particular occasion.

5. Plan decorations for a religious, cultural, or civic event.

Month       Special Occasion              Date of Celebration

January     New Year's Day                January 1
            Martin Luther King, Jr. Day   Third Monday in January
            Spouse's Day                  Fourth Friday in January
February    Groundhog Day                 February 2
            Lincoln's Birthday            February 12
            Valentine's Day               February 14
            Washington's Birthday
            observed (Presidents' Day)    Third Monday in February
March       International Women's Day     March 8
            St. Patrick's Day             March 17
            Easter                        First Sunday following the
                                            first full moon on or after
                                            the vernal equinox (March
                                            20); always occurring
                                            between March 22 and
                                            April 25
April       Professional Secretaries'     Last full week from Sunday
              Week                          to Saturday in April
                                            (Professional Secretaries'
                                            Day is the Wednesday of
                                            Secretaries' Week)
May         May Day                       May 1
            PTA Teacher Appreciation      First full week in May
            Mother's Day                  Second Sunday in May
            Armed Forces Day              Third Saturday in May
            Memorial Day                  Last Monday in May
June        Children's Sunday             Second Sunday in June
            Flag Day                      June 14
            Father's Day                  Third Sunday in June
July        Independence Day              July 4
              (Fourth of July)
August      Friendship Day                First Sunday in August
September   Labor Day                     First Monday in September
            National Grandparents' Day    First Sunday in September
                                            following Labor Day
            National Good Neighbor Day    Fourth Sunday in September
October     Columbus Day                  Second Monday in October
            National Boss Day             October 16
            Sweetest Day                  Third Saturday in October
            Mother-in-law Day             Fourth Sunday in October
            Halloween                     October 31
November    Veterans Day                  November 11
            Thanksgiving                  Fourth Thursday in November
December    Christmas                     December 25
            New Year's Eve                December 31
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Title Annotation:Section 3 Basic Techniques and Styles
Author:Hunter, Norah T.
Publication:The Art of Floral Design, 2nd ed.
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Previous Article:Chapter 12 Shapes of floral arrangements.
Next Article:Chapter 14 Flowers to wear.

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