x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 October 2017

Flower-giving is a tradition we shouldn't lose 

Many underestimate the power of flowers in today's digital age 

Getty Images
Getty Images

As I leave the baggage claim and proceed to the main arrivals concourse of Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport, I’m weary from the flight and somewhat depressed about the fact my holiday has come to an end.

I always feel unsettled in airports, and am anxious to escape the crowd of travellers and reach the comfort of my own home.

One of my least favourite parts of returning home is exiting the terminal and walking by the people who have gathered to greet their loved ones.

I can’t help but feel awkward and self-conscious, feeling everybody’s eyes on me as I try to spot my own family members among the crowd.

But today, I see something that instantly elevates my less-than-gracious demeanour. A young man stands in the centre of the concourse, holding an enormous bouquet of flowers – so big that it covers his face, and he appears to be sweating from the sheer weight of it. He eagerly scans the group of travellers walking out, likely looking for the mother, wife, or girlfriend that is to be the recipient of the beautiful bunch.

Though I don’t linger long enough to see him reunite with his loved one , the image sticks in my mind, and I begin to wonder why.

Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I would never react to flowers in the same, joyous way my girlfriends would. They would ooh and ahh at the sight of elaborate bouquets, and were fond of picking daisies and dandelions from the greenery that bordered the sidewalk.

I rarely participated, fearful that an army of ants would somehow come hurtling out of the flowers.

The appeal of flowers – bouquets, wreaths and all, was completely lost on me until I started dating.

Somehow, flowers are able to do wonders for a relationship. A single red rose given on Valentine’s Day can induce an outpouring of emotion, while a bouquet of chrysanthemums given in the aftermath of an argument is able to instantly repair any damage caused by the exchange of harsh words.

While there are countless books on the language of flowers, and detailed meanings to accompany the different types of blooms, I personally couldn’t care less about the symbolism attributed to a certain stem – as long as it looks pretty.

The custom of giving flowers to loved ones was heavily practiced during the Victorian era, when it wasn’t considered socially acceptable to express feelings in actual words.

Giving flowers was thought to be a more appropriate, subtle alternative. That being said, times were simpler then – gifted bouquets were a treasured means of communication in a time where unchaperoned dates were frowned upon, and it was rare that courting couples would spend significant amounts of time alone.

Nowadays, communication methods have "evolved". Technology allows us to bear witness a couple’s public Twitter spat and ensuing declaration of divorce, like that ofboxer Amir Khan and his wife Faryal Makhdoom.

As life becomes more intricate and complicated, with relationships deteriorating due to a lack of communication, or rather, face-to-face communication. And with more and more couples taking to Instagram to profess their love on their anniversary, rather than actually spending quality time together, I can only hope that the flower-giving tradition remains.

Flowers are obviously best received when they’re least expected. And yes, they’re somewhat expected on special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries. That doesn’t mean, however, that the gesture becomes any less-special.

That moment when you open your door to see a courier with a vase in his hand, or greet your partner as he or she pulls out a bouquet from behind his back – even if you’re expecting it – will always be cherished.

And for those that don't do it very often, there’s no excuse for failing to give flowers to your partner – the UAE has many online florist options, like 800 Flower and Theflowershop.ae, which offer same-day, or even two-hour delivery, for last-minute orders.

Some people – men mostly – get caught up in the practicality of flower-giving. What’s the point, they argue, if the flowers will shrivel up and die within a week or two?

Such nay-sayers should consider drying out flowers and collecting them as keepsakes.

On my desk at work, an old candleholder currently holds dried roses; the remnants of my anniversary bouquet from more than a month ago. Love like that will never die.

______________

Read more:

Why I'm not ready yet to turn the page on stationery for technology

There's no shame in choosing not to cook

Forsaking prayer rooms for peace

______________