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Red and white flowers

Posted by Pamela on May 21, 2007

In Reply to: Red and white flowers posted by Christine Hastings on May 21, 2007

: What is the origin of the saying "you should never have red and white flowers together in hospital wards"?

I don't know that it's a saying as much as a superstition. Here's a description of it from 1955: "Flowers also serve as death-omens, especially those blooming out of season, or those with drooping heads ... One almost universal flower-tabu forbids a mixed bunch of red and white flowers to be taken into hospital. I found this supersititon among nurses from Northumberland to Somerset, and in every case the reason given for it was the same. It means a death on the ward. (footnote: This belief is not confined to nurses. In 1954 a Banbury florist flatly refused to sell some red and white gladioli to a customer because the latter told him they were for a hospital paritent.)" (Hole, C 1955 Popular modern ideas on fokelore, Folklore, vol LXIV, Sept 1955). I don't know where the belief originates from, but if you do a google search on "red and white flowers", the popular claim seems to be that "red and white" symbolises "blood and bandages" and that the superstition started in the First (?) World War. Pamela