Graveyard

Graveyard
Cedar Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Eternal and Innocent: Tulips & Daisies

Tulips, Immanuel Leidy's Cemetery, Souderton, PA

Daisy, Lake Winola Cemetery, Lake Winola, PA
(Sidenote:  I am now a proud member of the Graveyard Rabbit Association (GYR).  I am sooo excited!!)

When I started to do some Internet research on the history of tulips and daisies, imagine my surprise that "tulip" and "daisy" are acronyms for two basic teachings of Calvinism.  Calvinism is a little too "heavy" for me to contemplate (pretty Puritanical), so this blog will be about lovely tulips and happy daisies.  If you want the "heavy" stuff, do your own Internet research on it; a whole "bunch" of sites will come up.

Western Europeans discovered tulips in the 16th century in the Ottoman Empire, now known as Turkey.  The Dutch especially became enamored with the tulip (which supposedly means "turban," as the flower reminded them of the Turkish headgear), which is grown from a bulb as well as from seed.  The seed, however, takes about ten years to produce a flowering bulb, and while the "mother bulb" produces "daughter offshoot bulbs" that can begin to flower in just a couple of years, the "mother bulb" lives for only a few years herself.  Hence, tulips were tantalizing to the Dutch because of their richly hued petals and color varieties, and also their challenge to be reproduced.

There is still much debate on whether or not a "tulip mania" bubble happened in the 17th century in the Netherlands.  The history we've read tells us the price of coveted tulip bulbs rose dramatically and then collapsed just as dramatically, almost overnight, ruining the fortunes of many a person who had speculated in the tulip market.  It's possible that an outbreak of the bubonic plague in the Haarlem marketplace caused buyers to stay away, initiating the decline of prices, which led to a panic, which led to the collapse of the market.  Regardless of the exact happenings, the tulip became an important symbol in the life of the Dutch and other nearby European countries, such as western Germany.

Tulips on gravestones symbolize eternal life, because tulips are the only flower that continue to grow after they have been cut from the bulb.  Try it.  Cut a tulip bloom off a plant and measure it from bloom tip to the stem bottom.  Place it in room-temperature water and then measure it again in a day or two.  The stem will have grown in length.  I am a recovering florist; I know such things.  So for Dutch and German immigrants in America, the tulip was a symbol from their homeland that symbolized life everlasting:  the body may die but the soul goes/grows on.  I haven't found many examples of tulips on gravestones, but there are some, and those have been on stones of those of German or Dutch descent.

Also, as with any spring flower, the tulip symbolizes rebirth or the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It also is associated with love and passion, as it is thornless and demonstrates complete vulnerability.

The daisy is another flower that symbolizes vulnerability and innocence, especially the innocence of children.  I assume that has something to do with its completely open bloom, face-up, totally exposed and trusting, towards the sun.  And it could have something to do with the child's game of "he-loves-me, he-loves-me-not," the removal of daisy flower petals, one at a time, while repeating the above lines, until the last one remains, which would supposedly reveal the true feelings of the object of one's affections.  I daresay this is really just the senseless destruction of a flower in trying to figure out the emotional workings of the human heart, and 50-50 odds aren't very good anyway.  Keep batteries in his remote control; then he'll love you.  :)

But daisies remain a symbol of youth and innocence, and are usually found on gravestones of children.  I haven't found many examples of those either, as lambs and broken buds were more popular in the 19th century.  But I did find some, and interestingly, some of them are found on stones in the Mennonite cemeteries, for those of German descent, and not just for children, either.  Perhaps it is not a daisy but edelweiss, the little white-petaled flower that grows in the Alps.  We may never know for sure.  Here are a few gravestones that I would like to share with you.  Thanks for reading.

Hornbaker's Cemetery, Madisonville, PA


Franconia Mennonite Meeting Cemetery, Franconia, PA

Franconia Mennonite Meeting Cemetery, Franconia, PA

Glen Dyberry Cemetery, Honesdale, PA

Towamencin Mennonite Cemetery, Harleysville, PA

Mount Bethel Presybeterian Cemetery, Mount Bethel, PA

Trumbauersville UCC Cemetery, Trumbauersville, PA

Dalton Jewish Cemetery, Dalton, PA

Hatfield Cemetery, Hatfield, PA

Immanuel Leidy's Cemetery, Souderton, PA

Immanuel Leidy's Cemetery, Souderton, PA

Indian Creek Christ Reformed Cemetery, Indian Valley, PA

Montrose Cemetery, Montrose, PA

St. Peter's Tohickon UCC Cemetery, Keelersville, PA

Whole Stone of above, St. Peter's Tohickon UCC Cemetery, Keelersville, PA

Towamencin Mennonite Cemetery, Harleysville, PA

Lake Winola Cemetery, Lake Winola, PA

Bristol Cemetery, Bristol, pA

Richlandtown Cemetery, Richlandtown, PA

Richlandtown Cemetery, Richlandtown, PA

Richlandtown Cemetery, Richlandtown, PA

Richlandtown Cemetery, Richlandtown, PA

Richlandtown Cemetery, Richlandtown, PA

Richlandtown Cemetery, Richlandtown, PA

St. John's Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Ridge Valley, PA

St. Paul's UCC Cemetery, Swiftwater, PA

Trumbauersville Cemetery, Trumbauersville, PA

Trumbauersville UCC Cemetery, Trumbauersville, PA

Trumbauersville UCC Cemetery, Trumbauersville, PA

Trumbauersville UCC Cemetery, Trumbauersville, PA

West Swamp Mennonite Cemetery, Bucks County, PA

West Swamp Mennonite Cemetery, Bucks County, PA

 West Swamp Mennonite Cemetery, Bucks County, PA

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