Chances are you have heard the word nosegay at some point and maybe have wondered what exactly it is referring to. Simply put, a nosegay is a small bouquet of flowers. The nosegay has been around since medieval times when they would be worn around the bodice or head or carried.
The term nosegay was first used during the 15th century and was a combination of the word nose and gay, with the word gay meaning ornament. Essentially the term referred to an ornament that appeals to the nostrils. During this time in Europe people believed that bathing could allow spirits to enter their bodies. For this reason, many wealthier women of the time would carry ornate holders made from ivory or silver. They would pack these holders with scented flowers and either pin them on their bodice or carry them near their nose in order to avoid evil smells.
Today the nosegay is typically associated with weddings. The arrangement is often round and made up of densely packed flowers that are typically bound by a ribbon. During a wedding ceremony a bride will often carry a large bouquet while the members of a wedding party will carry smaller nosegays. The mother of the bride and the mother of the groom may also receive nosegays instead of traditional corsages. These nosegays are often made to match the dresses that the mothers are wearing as opposed to matching the wedding colors.
Some brides will also provide nosegays to people at the wedding who they hold near and dear such as their godmothers or grandmothers. The nosegay is given to these special people instead of a corsage. Additionally, some brides have chosen to throw a nosegay in place of their bridal bouquet. The nosegay is typically made from the same flowers as the larger bridal bouquet. This allows the bride to keep her bouquet.
In addition to being used for weddings, nosegays are also a popular gift for a number of special occasions. Nosegays can be made with any type of flower and in any colors that are desired. Garden roses are often a great choice for the main flower of these small bouquets because of their sweet fragrance, gorgeous blooms and the variety of colors that are available.