Victorian Tussie Mussies
A tussie mussie is an aromatic
little nosegay of flowers and herbs
that goes back to medieval times in Europe. The words "tussie mussie" meant
"sweet posey" in an era when sanitation left much to be desired and fresh
air was considered harmful.
Originally, these little nosegays were primarily made of scented medicinal herbs,
like rosemary, thyme and rue, that were believed to ward off the plague,
airborne germs, and unpleasant odors. Carrying tussie mussies close to their
nose to breathe in the herbal fragrance, people went about their business in
Medieval towns and cities. This practice may have arisen from the age-old
custom of strewing strongly scented herbs on the floor of homes to freshen
the air and protect against germs and the plague.
But, it wasn't until Queen Victoria's time that the language of flowers reached its prime.
Every noble and wealthy young lady of the time learned the symbolism of flowers and
how to make tussie mussies and nosegays for all occasions. Gentleman communicated
feelings for a lady by sending private and intimate messages by means of a special bouquet.
The young lady might spend hours researching the identification of the flower or herb
and then the meaning of the message. Her suitor might not know that his expressions of love
were reciprocal until he saw her wearing the tussie over her heart.
During Victoria's time the study of botany and the discovery of new plants from all over
the world brought new and exciting ideas to the game of flower language. It was a diversion and
a game but tussie mussies had real use too. Any proper person would carry a sweet smelling
bouquet to ward off the stench coming from the streets, unwashed bodies, sickness, and decay
after death. The favored bouquet was one of sweet smelling violets and they were so popular
that street vendors sold them everywhere. Some felt that certain combinations of scents would
ward off illness and even the deadly plague.
The Victorians created a language of love with these bouquets, for each flower or herb
used in the arrangement has a meaning that would have been well understood to the recipient.
If the man sent the lady a bouquet of forget-me-nots it meant true love, and she might
reciprocate by sending back a collection of purple lilacs ("I'm falling in love with you").
He'd be in trouble if she sent back yellow roses (for infidelity) and larkspur (for fickleness).
Let's create your own special tussie mussie. Make it personal by starting with flowers that convey your message to the one you love.
Victorian Cat Tube from Niche Tubes by Jax.