Romeo and Juliet, true love?
Are Romeo and Juliet really the most romantic of all lovers? Or is their love more folly, infatuation and teenage angst?
The last gift of love.
Flower giving is not restricted to the living. Final last floral gifts are a long established custom at funerals. In ancient Egypt garlands of flowers would drape the coffin and floral headdresses and collars of flowers would adorn the mummified bodies. In Tutankhamun's tomb a collar of Olea Europaea (Olive,) Nymphaea Coerulea (the blue water lily of the Nile,) and Cornflowers (Centaurea depressa,) were found. This was made on a base of Papyrus with folded Olive leaves. It showed the great skill of ancient Egyptian florists.
Actors made a regular income from being professional mourners and in ancient Greece wore wax masks portraying the ancestors of the deceased. The practice of professional mourners continued in medieval times and long afterwards. The wreath is one of the oldest funeral tributes representing the circle of life. A wreath would contain buds, half opened flowers, mature flowers and seed heads, to represent birth, youth, maturity and death. The earliest wreaths were made from a long garland with a central loop and these can be seen on vases and carved vessels from ancient Greece.
Lining the grave with sweet smelling flowers is an old country tradition and is still practiced today in some parts of the country. In Shakespeare's day sprigs of rosemary, a symbol of remembrance, were often worn in a hatband or attached to a sleeve as a way of identifying those in mourning. Often the shroud was covered with sweet smelling herbs and flowers.