Sunday, September 09, 2012

Happy Chrysanthemum Day

Celebrated: In Japan, China, Korea and Vietnam, for centuries

The chrysanthemum was cultivated in China before recorded time. It appears in pottery fragments and writings as far back as the 15th century B.C.E. Chrysanthemums were considered a medicinal herb, with root, leaves and petals used to make everything from health tonics to salads to wine. Confucius grew them, and praised their value as objects of meditation.

The Japanese began to write about chrysanthemums in the eighth century A.D. They considered it so perfect a flower that it became the official symbol and seal of the Emperor, who still sits on the Chrysanthemum Throne. High-ranking families were allowed to use the kikumon, or chrysanthemum seal, in their own family crests. And the ninth day of the ninth month, a day of "double yang," became Chrysanthemum Day, one of five ancient festivals celebrated in Japan. While Chrysanthemum Day was traditionally tied to the lunar calendar — meaning that in 2012 it would be celebrated on October 23 — in Japan, at least, its celebration has been moved to match the Western calendar.

Chrysanthemums belong to the same botanical family as daisies, but have been bred over time to become far more complex. A chrysanthemum's petals are actually tiny flowers in themselves, shaped as either rays or discs — so it is, in fact, possible to see an entire garden of flowers in a single mum. They are hallmarks of autumn, their blooming season, and in much of Europe, they are the distinctive flowers of funerals. (By contrast, they're the symbol of Mother's Day in Australia. Go figure.) In the United States, the chrysanthemum is the official flower of Chicago, Salinas (CA), and the month of November.

In this household, Dizzy gets a natural alternative to Frontline whose main ingredient is pyrethium, an effective insect repellent made from dried chrysanthemum heads. Not only does it keep the fleas away, but it makes him smell lovely.

1 comment:

Lucinda said...

Loved the post!