Thursday, 17 July 2008

The Meaning of Romance

Romance means many different things to so many different people. A glance, a word, just a little unexpected gesture, all have the power to charm. In Regency and Georgian times when young girls were chaperoned in almost every situation, the language of the fan was used to convey messages to would-be suitors and lovers. Hearts could be broken across the space of a ballroom if a lady’s gestures were not favourable.

There were fans for every occasion and the owners lost no chance to wield them to their advantage. A fan placed close to the heart means I love you. A half-opened fan pressed to the lips – you may kiss me. The fan resting on the left cheek, means no, the right cheek, yes. However, there are many gestures and all are not favourable, for example a fan held over the left ear means I wish to be rid of you.

Gentlemen, not to be outdone, often resorted to the language of flowers to express their feelings and whether it be a single flower or a huge bouquet, the message would be clear. There appears to be a flower for every emotion, Acacia - Secret love, Ambrosia - Love returned, Anemone - Unfading love, Arbutus - Only love. Not only did they show love, but withered flowers show rejected love.

These are just a few examples of the messages that could be conveyed by these methods but give you some idea of how love could be lost or won without a word being spoken.

This article first appeared at the blog of Charlene Leatherman.

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