Flower Gifting Custom in Estonia

Background: The informant is a 51 year-old Estonian immigrant who lives in Los Angeles. She continues to participate in Estonian traditions and is a part of the “Estonian House” which is an Estonian community that resides in LA.

Context: The folklore was collected on a scheduled Zoom meeting in which I interviewed two native Estonians who immigrated to the United States and are close friends.

Main Piece:

Informant: “So I remember a couple of things, for example, like you know about gifting I was telling you are already about the flowers that they’ll never give like you know equal amount of plumes. Always give an odd like three plumes. I mean here in America, there are big bouquets always here, but in Estonia, we have like let’s say I’m getting three roses or five roses or, you know, nine tulips.

The informant later explained that you do not give someone an even number of flowers at a wedding or other celebratory gathering, because even numbers of flowers are associated with funerals in Estonian culture.

Interpretation: It seems that flower gifting is quite prominent in Estonian tradition and the number of flowers that one gifts is extremely significant. Because I was unaware of this tradition, I decided to do a little more research. I found that gifting someone a single flower is a sign of love. So, for example, you would gift a loved one a single flower or give someone a flower during a date. However, if you gave that person a big bouquet of flowers that contained twelve flowers (or another even number) that would be seen as somewhat shocking to the recipient as even amounts of flowers tend to be given when mourning the death of a loved one during a funeral. It is quite interesting that Estonians associate different meanings with the number of flowers that one gifts. I am not aware of exactly why even numbers of flowers are associated with funerals, but nonetheless an intriguing gift giving tradition.

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