Roses are red, violets are.... purple?!

These small, sweet little flowers are a sure sign of spring and have centuries of folklore and, fortunately, some much better poetry to prove it.

Violets are often said to be the reason why purple appears in the rainbow flag, going right back the ancient Greek poet Sappho, who often referenced the flower in her poems, making it a symbol of female love. In fact, a scandal occurred in 1926 when a female character in a play sent a bunch of violets to another female character, leading to an uproar and calls for censorship (why are we not surprised). The play was closed, but internationally women wore the flower on their lapels as a show of support. In his play, Suddenly Last Summer, Tennessee Williams also weaved violets and their symbolism into the plot by naming a character, Mrs. Violet Venable.

Violets have appeared in other expressions of love too. There's the obvious 'roses are red, which can be traced as far back to 1590 and later in 1784 made famous by Gammer Gurton's Garland: The rose is red, the violet's blue, The honey's sweet, and so are you. For something less sugary, Hole's Courtney Love wrote the song Violet about her tumultuous relationship with Billy Corgan.

Romance aside, who could forget, Violet Beauregarde and her penchant for chewing gum in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

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