In Victorian times, the slow and almost bashful process of the peony flower’s opening, seemingly impossible without the intimate and loving attentions of the ants, came to symbolize female purity and chastity. Indeed, it was in Victorian England where the peony became associated with white weddings as the delicately-veiled, virginal bride slowly and coyly revealed her noble beauty to her new husband.
As such, the peony was often considered a potent symbol of romance, especially when compared to roses. Where roses were given to win her heart, peonies represented the moment of lifetime commitment where her heart was won, and two truly become one.
With the sheer depth and breadth of symbolism across so many times and cultures, it is little wonder that the peony has been and continues to be one of the most widely popular flowers, both through cultivation and as a special gift. Likewise, the single most important symbolism of the peony flower, and one which cuts across all cultures and times, is that it is indeed perennial, with its beauty faithfully returning every year, and lasting as long as the perfect romance.