Flowers for the occasion

When the lady helping me buy flowers for our wedding anniversary gave me a look of shock, I knew I had crossed some sort of cultural boundary.

Similarly, when a streetside cook jested that I give one of the flowers to his female colleague, and she refused, I thought something was up.

Celebrating our wedding anniversary, I bought Liz a big bunch of bright yellow chrysanthemums. They looked so happy, I thought. But the lady at the flower stand chatting with me said “No! You can’t give your wife those!” The flower seller himself stepped in, “He’s a foreigner, it’s ok.”

Puzzled, I paid for the flowers, and gave them to a very happy wife on return home. A big burst of yellow still lightens our dining table.

Tutoring some students the next day, I took out a Chinese coin to talk about heads-or-tails. What’s on the tails side? “A flower,” the student replied. What kind of flower? “A mum.” Very impressive vocabulary!

“We give those to dead people.”

Wait- dead people?

“Yes, when people die, we always give this kind of flower. We never give it to friends.”

There I go again, displaying my ignorance of 5,000 years of culture. And I can’t say it will be the last time either.

Liz still loves the flowers.

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3 Responses to “Flowers for the occasion”


  1. 1 Becca January 5, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    1) I love the fact that the woman selling them knew it was ok and let you buy them instead of insisting on buying something else.

    2) “Remember your death.” Very spiritual. :o)

    3) Yellow mums are BEAUTIFUL! You did well JM. :o)

    4) Happy Anniversary!

  2. 2 Rachael January 7, 2010 at 1:52 am

    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!!!!!!

  3. 3 mjfalk January 12, 2010 at 2:50 am

    I’m glad our daughter is married to a man who buys her flowers for their anniversary——


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