Chinese Flower — Auspicious Flowers of Months of Traditional Chinese Calendar and Their Cultural Meanings

Chinese Traditional Calendar is a Lunisolar Calendar, which includes 24 Solar Terms that correspond to the movement of the Sun, and 12 months to note the activities of the Moon. 

Each month is represented by a Chinese flower with auspicious, cultural meanings.  

These 12 flowers have been frequently praised and included in poems, paintings, and artifacts, and each of them has a flower goddess to represent its beauty and virtues.

Plum Blossom of January in Traditonal Chinese Calendar

Jan.

Apricot Blossom of February in Traditonal Chinese Calendar

Feb.

Peach Blossom of March in Traditonal Chinese Calendar

Mar.

Chinese Flower Peony

Apr.

Pomegranate Flower of May in Traditonal Chinese Calendar

May

Lotus Flower of June in Traditonal Chinese Calendar

June

Balsamine of July in Traditonal Chinese Calendar

July

Osmanthus Blossom of August in Traditonal Chinese Calendar

Aug.

Chrysanthemum of September in Traditonal Chinese Calendar

Sept.

Hibiscus of October in Traditonal Chinese Calendar

Oct.

Narcissus of November in Traditonal Chinese Calendar

Nov.

Winter Sweet of December in Traditonal Chinese Calendar

Dec.

January in Chinese Calendar — Plum Blossom

Flower of Strong, Noble, and Modest 

Plum Blossom, the Flower of January, is also the flower of Five Blessings (in Chinese is Wufu), whose five petals represent happiness, wealth, longevity, peace, and success. 

They blossom in harsh winter, therefore, the plum blossom has been representative of strength and courage.

Documented more than 3200 years ago, the plum was firstly used as flavorings, food, and sacrificial offerings.

Centuries later, people started to use plum blossoms in cosmetics and medications, when more types and numbers of the flower were cultivated. 

During Tang (618 — 907) and Song (960 — 1279) dynasties, more scholars and artists became big fans of the flower for its beautiful appearance, fragrance, and virtues, and developed a whole ornamental theory which includes appreciating place, time, shape, and activities, etc. 

Since then, the plum blossom has been frequently praised in poems and artworks, and a popular decorative pattern in people's daily lives.  

Poem about Plum Blossom by Wang Anshi (1021 — 1086):

 

墙角数枝梅,凌寒独自开。遥知不是雪,为有暗香来。 

February in Chinese Calendar — Apricot Blossom

Flower of Lucky and Fortunate

 

The blooming of the apricot flower means spring is coming.

Apricot blossom, the Flower of February, has the same pronunciation as "lucky" in Chinese. Hence, it is representative of good luck and blessed life. 

Besides, it is also the symbol of pure, shy, and pretty girls, because of its artistic colors and beautiful appearance.

Documented over 3000 years ago, the apricot flower has been used as food, sacrificial offering, medication, cosmetics, and decorative patterns in China. 

 

Poem about Apricot blossom by Yang Wanli (1127 — 1206):

 

道白非真白,言红不若红。请君红白外,别眼看天工。

Chinese Flower Goddess of Apricot Blossom

March in Chinese Calendar — Peach Blossom

Flower of Longevity and Love

Peach Blossom, the Flower of March, is famous for being the symbol of love. 

In ancient mythology, the goddess Xiwangmu has some peach trees on Mount Kunlun. When King Mu of Zhou and Emperor Wu of Han visited her, she awarded them with peaches from these magic trees.

As the plant of powerful immortals, peach has been representative of longevity in Chinese culture.  

Peach flowers are quite productive and beautiful; therefore, in documentations of the Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC — 256 BC), they are representatives of sweet love and blessed couples.  

Peach Blossom in Shijing, Compiled by Confucius (551 BC — 479 BC):

 

桃之夭夭,灼灼其华。之子于归,宜其室家

Chinese Flower Goddess of Peach Blossom

April in Chinese Calendar — Peony

Flower of Brightness, Glory, and Wealth

Peony, the Flower of April, is renowned as the King of Flowers in Chinese culture, as the symbol of wealth, prosperity, and honor. 

Firstly used as valuable medication over 2000 years ago, peony got cultivated in scale by people in Northern and Southern Dynasties (420 — 589), introduced to royals in Sui Dynasty (581 — 618), and became highly valued in Tang Dynasty (618 — 907). 

In the prosperous Tang Empire, peony flowers were cultivated everywhere, from the royal palaces to civilians' gardens. 

Peony art, including poems, paintings, artworks, cosmetics, peony pattern jewelry, and decorations, all flourished during this period.

Since then, the peony has become one of the most popular flowers in China. 

Poem of Peony by Liu Yuxi (772 — 842): 唯有牡丹真国色,花开时节动京城。

Chinese Flower Goddess of Peony

May in Chinese Calendar — Pomegranate Flower

Flower of Happy Marriage, Maturity, and Wealthy

Pomegranate, the Flower of May, was introduced to the Han Dynasty by Zhang Qian (about 164 BC — 114 BC), and firstly cultivated in the royal gardens. 

It looks like a beautiful red skirt, hence, a famous type of women's gorgeous dress was named after the Pomegranate flower (in Chinese is Shiliu Qun). 

After it popularized from royal to civilians, Pomegranate became the symbol of beautiful and mature women. 

Meanwhile, because of its prolificacy, Pomegranate had been widely used in Traditional Chinese Wedding, as the representative of productivity, flourishing, and wealth.  

Poem about Pomegranate by Han Yu (768 — 824):

 

五月榴花照眼明,枝间时见子初成。

Chinese Flower Goddess of Pomegranate Flower

June in Chinese Calendar — Lotus

Flower of Elegant, Harmony, and Pure

Lotus, the Flower of June, comes from silt but stays pure and beautiful, and has a similar pronunciation as "Harmony".

Therefore, lotus has been representative of grace, pure, elegant, noble, peace, and harmony. 

Documented and cultivated no later than the Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC — 256 BC), lotus has been widely used in medication, food, artworks, cosmetics, and praised by countless scholars. 

Besides, the lotus is also the flower of Taoism and Buddhism. The Taoism Lotus Crown was once a popular hair ornament in the Tang Dynasty (618 — 907).  

Poem about Lotus by Li Bai (701 — 762): 竹色溪下绿,荷花镜里香。

Chinese Flower Goddess of Lotus

July in Chinese Calendar — Balsamine

The Incarnation of Phenix and the Flower of Energy

Balsamine, the Flower of July, is believed as the incarnation of Phenix, one of the most beautiful and powerful mythical animals in Chinese Mythology

Besides, it has been widely used in medication and cosmetology, especially for painting fingernails. 

Therefore, the Balsamine flower is representative of attractiveness, beauty, and energy.   

Poem about Balsamine by Wu Renbi of late Tang Dynasty (618 — 907): 

香红嫩绿正开时,冷蝶饥蜂两不知。此际最宜何处看,朝阳初上碧梧枝。

August in Chinese Calendar — Osmanthus Blossom

Flower of Moon, Noble, Honor, and Champion

Osmanthus, the Flower of August, is the representative of the moon and championship. 

In Chinese mythology, there is a huge Osmanthus tree on the moon, where lives the Fairy Chang E and her bunny Yutu. 

In history, the Imperial Examination, which was held to elect officials, was always held in August when Osmanthus blossoms. People who won first place in the examination were referred to as "Snapped an Osmanthus' Twig".

In the Chinese language, the pronunciation of Osmanthus is the same as "Richness".

Therefore, the sweet-scented Osmanthus is the symbol of success, honor, blessing, and wealth.

Meanwhile, the Mid Autumn Festival, one of the most important Chinese holidays to celebrate harvest and reunion with family, is on the 15th of August. On this holiday, worshiping the moon, drinking Osmanthus wine, eating mooncakes and Osmanthus cakes are popular activities.

Poem about Osmanthus by Zhu Xi (1130 — 1200): 

亭亭岩下桂,岁晚独芬芳。叶密千层绿,花开万点黄。

Chinese Flower Goddess of Osmanthus

September in Chinese Calendar — Chrysanthemum

Flower of Longevity, Auspiciousness, and Decency

Chrysanthemum, the Flower of September, bloom around the Double Ninth Festival (9th of September in Chinese Calendar), a holiday to climb mountains and respect the elders. 

Additionally, nine is the strongest number in ancient Chinese culture that represents eternity. Click to read more about the Cultural Importance of Nine

Therefore, Chrysanthemum is representative of longevity. 

Later, Tao Yuanming (about 365 — 427), a renowned scholar had frequently eulogized Chrysanthemum in his poems as a sign of integrity and fortitude.

 

Since then, these virtues have been highly appreciated and praised by more poets. 

Poem about Chrysanthemum by Tao Yuanming: 秋菊有佳色,裛露掇其英。

October in Chinese Calendar — Hibiscus

Flower of Virtue and Gorgeousness

Hibiscus, the Flower of October, has bright colors, beautiful appearances, and a pronunciation that is similar to the "Husband" in Chinese.

Therefore, it is representative of people with outstanding morals, gorgeous women, and one's deep longings for the beloved one. 

Poem about Hibiscus by Wang Wei (701 — 761):

木末芙蓉花,山中发红萼。

November in Chinese Calendar — Narcissus

Flower of Purity and Blessing

Narcissus, the Flower of November, was introduced to China about 1000 years ago and was cultivated and served as medication, cosmetics, and decorative potted landscapes.  

Narcissus was named as a fairy in the water, which has many versions of legends in regard to its incarnation.

Gorgeous flowers from the clean water and the fairy-related stories, together, made Narcissus the representative of purity and auspiciousness in Chinese culture.  

Poem about Narcissus by Yang Wanli (1127 — 1206):

 

韵绝香仍绝,花清月未清。天仙不行地,且借水为名。

Chinese Flower Goddess of Narcissus

December in Chinese Calendar — Winter Sweet

Flower of Fearless, Persistent and Unbending

Winter Sweet, the Flower of December, blooms in harsh winter, and is not afraid of cold, snow, and drought,

Hence, it is admired as the representative of strong, fearless, and unbending.

Poem about Winter Sweet by Fan Chengda (1126 — 1193):

垂垂瘦萼泫微霜,剪剪纤英锁暗香。金雀钗头金蛱蝶,春风傅得旧宫妆。

Chinese Flower Goddess of Winter Sweet