Most girls are familiar with nosegays, those small bouquet of flowers you might receive from your first boyfriend or you have at your wedding. They have also been referred to as Tussie-Mussies. Furthermore, a nosegay is a smaller arrangement than a bouquet.
Nosegays have a long and interesting history. It made its first real appearance in the 15th century. The term nosegay means a small ornament that smells really nice thus appealing to the nose.
It was during this time people believed that washing would allow evil spirits to enter the body or you could become extremely ill so wealthier women would carry fancy silver or ivory holders filled with flowers. They would either pin it to their bodice or carry them by their nose to avoid evil spirits but in reality, the floral scents helped mask the unwashed body smells.
Later in the 16th and 17th centuries, nosegays gained a reputation of protecting people from getting the plague because it was believed at the time that bad smells were responsible for the spread of the disease. In addition, nosegays were also believed to act as charms if certain flowers and herbs were used.
Further more, at least one poet wrote a nice long poem about the symbolism and significance of various flowers in 1584. By Victorian times, the creation of nosegays became associated with the language of flowers due to the publication of a book which alleged certain flowers had a secret code in harems.
Over time, as bathing became more acceptable and popular, nosegays were used less and less relegated to weddings and other social events. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.