Offering flowers is the best way to express one’s warm feelings, gratitude or congratulations. However, there are several ethical canons in Russia that we got used to follow unlike the foreigners, who may unwittingly make a mistake. For example, they can present a bouquet with an even number of flowers (two, four or six), Совершенно не догадываясь, что в России такие букеты предназначены только для умерших (they are completely unaware that in Russia, we buy even number of flowers only for dead people!)
So in class, I try to explain what kind of flowers should be offered to whom. After all, to give flowers is to express one’s feeling of love, respect or reverence.
Usually, flowers are offered to women, but also to men for an anniversary or a special celebration. In such a case, choose a large, one-colour bouquet of flowers with long stems like розы, лилии, гладиолусы, хризантемы (roses, lilies, gladiolus or chrysanthemum). Bright coloured bouquets are not accepted.
Young women should be offered flowers of soft tones like white, pink or light blue. On a first date, it is possible to give just one, elegant flower. A розу необычного цвета, крупную ромашку, герберу (a rose with an unusual colour, a large daisy or a gerbera) are among the most common ones. The wrapping of the flower is as important as the flower itself.
To express your interest for a girl, you should offer her a bouquet of three flowers. Five flowers will tell your attraction to her and the tender feelings you got for her. If you want to make a declaration of love or a marriage proposal, don’t forget to give your beloved a bouquet of seven flowers. After all, the root of the word “семья” (family) in Russian means seven. Nine flowers is a good number to express deep respect and love.
Offer flowers to women as often as you like, with or without reason. To your acquaintances, it is better to give a bouquet of their favourite flowers and their favourite shades, or an unfamiliar and graceful bouquet arranged with nice green leaves. In general, leaves are a symbol of hope.
Red flowers are the symbol of love, and can be given to relatives, actors, or for an anniversary. Orange, white or yellow will suit everyone. Just remember that women could misinterpret your yellow bouquet as a parting message. As we say in Russia: “…жёлтые тюльпаны – символы разлуки…” (…yellow tulips are a symbol of separation…)
When it comes to older women, you should offer a more serious bouquet or a flowering potted plant. Flowers in buds should be given to young girls only, but avoid also to offer wide open flowers. Be also careful not to give a bouquet with too many colours.
If you buy a bouquet in advance, slightly cut the stems, wrapped them in a wet fabric, spray fresh water on them and leave them in a cool place. Offer flowers and see how happy you’ll feel about it.