Victorian Tussie Mussie



  • Every sprig and blossom in each little nosegay conveys a “meaning” in the old-time language of flowers.

“Tussie-mussie” is a quaint, endearing term from the early 1400s for small, round bouquets of herbs and flowers with ­symbolic meanings. The word coaxes smiles from audiences I ­address around the country, and many people are delighted to discover this archaic custom. What application can tussie-mussies possibly have in today’s world, where women and men carrying briefcases and cellular phones have neither free hands to carry a tussie-mussie nor spare minutes to invest in antiquated customs?

DIY:  No-Muss Tussie-Mussies  

Glossary:  Herbal Sentiments  

I’ve come to understand that people today treasure the notion of tussie-mussies because each one is personal and unique; every sprig and blossom in each little nosegay conveys a “meaning” in the old-time language of flowers. Depending on which herbs are included, a wide variety of personal messages can be sent. This silent language of flowers allows a blasé generation to express poignant and touching sentiments without having to come right out and say them in words. The flowers say them for us.



A case in point: When a dear friend of mine had a miscarriage, I couldn’t really find the words to tell her how I felt, nor did I think that either of us would be comfortable if I tried. Instead, I gave her a pretty little tussie-mussie made of grass (which alludes to the fleeting quality of life), a white rosebud (a heart untouched by love), wood ­sorrel (maternal love), elderberry (sympathy), goldenrod (encouragement), and flowering reed (confidence in heaven), with a card explaining this symbolism. This fragrant and visual ­expression of grief comforted us both.

Another time, a chum­ gathered a group of friends to take me out to lunch for an “important” birthday. Imagine my chagrin later when I realized that I’d totally forgotten her birthday. To make amends, I gave her a tussie-mussie that included opium poppy (forgetfulness), sweet marjoram (blushes), brambles (remorse), rosemary (remembrance), Japanese rose (never too late to make amends), and coltsfoot (justice shall be done you). We both got a chuckle out of that one, and we’re still good friends.

Gayathri
2/8/2018 6:55:26 AM

Dear Reader, the connotations and suggested herbs and flowers are simply beautiful. I came across the word, tussie mussie, in a Nora Roberts book, Vision in White. The heroine is a wedding photographer and with a small group of friends, runs a wedding maker business. Nosegays and corsages are also discussed. Since its Valentine's Day soon, I recommend a tussie mussie made of red roses and cedar (longlasting, I imagine) and small sprigs of all herbs for all the surprise elements and flavouring in life. Thank you, Gayathri B. Seetharam




Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Get the latest on Natural Health and Sustainable Living with Mother Earth News!

Mother Earth News

Your friends at Mother Earth Living are committed to natural health and sustainable living. Unfortunately, the financial impact of COVID-19 has challenged us to find a more economical way to achieve this mission. We welcome you to our sister publication Mother Earth News. What you sought in the pages of Mother Earth Living can be found in Mother Earth News. For over 50 years, “The Original Guide to Living Wisely” has focused on organic gardening, herbal medicine, real food recipes, and sustainability. We look forward to going on this new journey with you and providing solutions for better health and self-sufficiency.

The impact of this crisis has no doubt affected every aspect of our daily lives. We will strive to be a useful and inspiring resource during this critical time and for years to come.

Best wishes,
Your friends at Mother Earth Living and Mother Earth News

Save Money & a Few Trees!

By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of Mother Earth News for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Classifieds