Belonging to the family Asteraceae, the big, fantastic sunflower is related to the optimistic daisy. Though they don’t look alike, they have the same cheerful spirit that many people like.
There are many more things to learn about the sunflower. In today’s guide, we will delve into the history and symbolism of sunflowers to help you understand and love them all the more.
Without further ado, let’s start!
The History of the Fantastic Sunflower
Native to America, the sunflower was first cultivated as a flower in 1,000 B.C. Sometime later, it started to be grown as food too.
Its unique and dedicated behavior of turning to the direction of the sun to grow has inspired many people. As a result, they wrote stories, poetry, and sang songs about this flower.
Thanks to their supreme glamor and warm disposition, they became a favorite among painters during the impressionist era (which began in the late 1800s), most notably Vincent Van Gogh.
In addition to this, sunflowers served as an element of design in churches and a fitting symbol for different religious groups.
To this day, sunflowers are still one of the most popular blooms alongside roses, lilies, and tulips. People also eat their nutritious seeds that combat heart disease and high blood pressure and use the oil for cooking or making skin silky smooth.
The Symbolism of Sunflowers
In general, sunflowers mean adoration, loyalty, and bliss.
What best explains this is the story of Apollo and Clytie in Greek mythology.
Clytie has always adored Apollo, the God of the Sun, so she always looks up at him in the sky. Not long after, she finds out that Apollo has given his love to another nymph.
So she comes over to tell the other nymph’s father about this, but as punishment, the nymph buries Clytie alive. Apollo then becomes furious and turns Clytie into a sunflower since he has always loved her.
Even as a sunflower, Clytie watches Apollo move in the sky in his chariot every day because of her great love for him. And that’s the Greek story that explains the special meaning behind these dazzling beauties.
Meanwhile, in Chinese culture, people believe that these flowers bring good luck, deep happiness, and longevity. That’s why they are mostly given to graduates and those starting a new venture.
Giving this flower to another person doesn’t suggest feelings of romance, but it can still be regarded as such by the beloved receiving them.
Now, not many people know this, but this flower also symbolizes peace.
By 1991, after the Soviet Union was disintegrated, Ukraine had become the third country with the most nuclear weapons. Five years later, it signed an agreement to demolish all the nuclear silos it had.
To commemorate this momentous event, people from Ukraine, the US, and Russia planted sunflowers right on the spot where the nuclear silos were built. The gesture stood for new hope in the world.