Violets and pansies can get mixed up very easily, as they have similar appearances, and the names are often interchangeable.
Usually, violets refer to the much smaller and petite flower. They bloom both in early spring and summer, and even the early days of autumn, depending on the type and when you plant them. They are a favorite flower among pollinators.
While this tiny flower may look unassuming at first glance — besides its beauty — there’s a lot of meaning behind it, and there’s a reason why they’ve been so popular throughout the years.
What does ‘Violet’ Mean?
Violet refers to the Violaceae genus, which encompasses around 600 different varieties.
The word violet comes from the Old French “violete”, which describes the color.
What do Violets Symbolize?
Violets are symbolic of love, and though they are small and relatively simple compared to roses, they are still widely admired and given as gifts as well as being one of the most popular bedding plants.
Most violets carry a wonderful smell, but you have to get very close in order to pick up on their sweet fragrance.
Violets represent healing, protection, positivity, dreams, and the sky, all the good things, really.
What’s the Cultural Significance Behind The Violet?
The violet has featured in several works by famous poets, such as John Keats, Oscar Wilde, and Emily Dickinson, demonstrating how this petite flower has inspired many people over the ages.
The violet is the chosen flower for several states in America, including Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
The Victorians considered the violet to mean “forever faithful” when given to someone, usually as a promise to remain faithful and supportive in a relationship, no matter how difficult times got.
The violet was also the favorite flower of Napoleon. There has always been a story circulating that he wore a locket with violets inside, which he’d originally had planted on Josephine’s grave.
Before the 1900s, the violet flowers in perfume were hard to come by, as the scent was fleeting. The perfume was extremely expensive, so you could see the class divide in which people wore violet perfume if they were very wealthy, if they weren’t, they wore the flowers instead.
A train carrying violets would arrive at Covent Garden daily, but this practice unfortunately stopped with the First World War, when fields were needed to grow food instead.
The violet is also the birth flower for February.
In Australia and New Zealand, in 1917, violets were sold to fund-raise for those affected by the First World War, including civilians, wounded soldiers, and people who were reliant on them.
In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Puck created a love potion from the violet, also called love-in-idleness.
The potion doesn’t create a happy, romantic love like the kind most of us hope for, but an unhealthy, unsettling obsession. So for some people, the violet represents an all-consuming adoration for someone.
Violets are also a symbol of the love between women, and this originated in the work of the poet Sappho.
Interestingly, Alcaeus, a lyric poet who knew Sappho, described her hair color as “violet-haired”, which was an old (but fitting, in this case) term for dark hair.
What do Violet Flower Tattoos Mean?
While the meaning of tattoos is different for every person who has one, broadly, violet tattoos symbolize love of all forms, leaving a whole host of reasons why you might get a violet tattoo.
The flower can symbolize a love of life itself and everything that comes with that journey, good or bad.
It can represent someone you love and share a profound connection with, or a special memory you never want to forget.
When Should You Give Someone Violets?
Violets have a lot of symbolism, but they’re perfect for any occasion when you want to express your love (romantic or otherwise) for someone.
Violets are also perfect for a 50th wedding anniversary, as they are traditionally given to celebrate the longevity of such a big milestone.
Violets make a good Valentine’s gift, if you’re someone who celebrates that holiday. They’re not as cliché as roses, but they still carry all that weighty symbolism on such tiny stems.