Tussie-Mussies

Joined
Nov 26, 2016
Messages
5,598
Location
central NC
#1
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When I first came across the tussie-mussie, I expected it to be a reference to a Southern belle throwing an old-fashioned hissy fit. I was wrong! The tussie-mussie is a small flower arrangement compiled of fragrant herbs and blooms and was originally created to ward off body odor and poor sanitary conditions. In other words it’s a small bunch of flowers that smell delightful. Tussie-mussies were all the rage in Victorian times.

Lawyers were among the first to use these arrangements to ward off germs from defendants. The fad quickly caught on and soon everyone was donning a “tussie-mussie.” Suitors brought tussie-mussies to young ladies filled with flowers symbolizing subtle sentiments. This type of communication was called the language of flowers or floriography. A pink rose tussie-mussie symbolized friendship. A red rose tussie-mussie symbolized love.

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The origin of the word tussie-mussie is somewhat mysterious. Many believe it comes from an older word, tus or tusse, which meant a knot of flowers. A proper tussie-mussie is always carried in a cone. In Victorian times, this cone was often made of paper.

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A tussie-mussie should not be confused with a nosegay. While a nosegay is also a small bouquet of flowers that is tied together, it is not a gift and it is not placed in a cone. The word nosegay is a compound word that means something pleasant or bright for the nose, an accurate description of the original purpose of the nosegay.

Tussie-mussies were quite popular with Victorian era brides. Many tussie-mussies had a long chain with a "finger ring" which allowed a woman to hold on to her flowers while she was dancing. These examples also had a nail or pin which kept the flowers inside the holder even when it was held upside down.

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Other tussie-mussies only had a ring incorporated into the end or a simple decorative ornament. Kate Middleton carried a bridal bouquet in the style of the Victorian tussie-mussie when she married Prince William.

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Joined
Nov 26, 2016
Messages
5,598
Location
central NC
#5
They were later made into small silver pins meant to hold a few tiny flowers, like a vase, Hercule Poirot is shown wearing one on his lapel.
So true! You can still find Victorian vase pins, which hold a small tussie-mussie in a brooch pin. Victorian gentlemen wore a more simple version, while ladies had more fanciful ones that held a slightly larger bouquet. These are commonplace in Southern weddings where the groom and groomsmen wear boutonnieres. They're also used as corsages for mothers of the bride and groom, or even their grandmothers.

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LoyaltyOfDogs

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
1,369
Location
Gettysburg area
#8
When I first came across the tussie-mussie, I expected it to be a reference to a Southern belle throwing an old-fashioned hissy fit. I was wrong! The tussie-mussie is a small flower arrangement compiled of fragrant herbs and blooms and was originally created to ward off body odor and poor sanitary conditions. In other words it’s a small bunch of flowers that smell delightful. Tussie-mussies were all the rage in Victorian times.

Lawyers were among the first to use these arrangements to ward off germs from defendants. The fad quickly caught on and soon everyone was donning a “tussie-mussie.” Suitors brought tussie-mussies to young ladies filled with flowers symbolizing subtle sentiments. This type of communication was called the language of flowers or floriography. A pink rose tussie-mussie symbolized friendship. A red rose tussie-mussie symbolized love.


The origin of the word tussie-mussie is somewhat mysterious. Many believe it comes from an older word, tus or tusse, which meant a knot of flowers. A proper tussie-mussie is always carried in a cone. In Victorian times, this cone was often made of paper.


A tussie-mussie should not be confused with a nosegay. While a nosegay is also a small bouquet of flowers that is tied together, it is not a gift and it is not placed in a cone. The word nosegay is a compound word that means something pleasant or bright for the nose, an accurate description of the original purpose of the nosegay.

Tussie-mussies were quite popular with Victorian era brides. Many tussie-mussies had a long chain with a "finger ring" which allowed a woman to hold on to her flowers while she was dancing. These examples also had a nail or pin which kept the flowers inside the holder even when it was held upside down.


Other tussie-mussies only had a ring incorporated into the end or a simple decorative ornament. Kate Middleton carried a bridal bouquet in the style of the Victorian tussie-mussie when she married Prince William.

This is enlightening. Thanks for posting it, @Eleanor Rose. When I was a kid, a local florist ran a little shop called "Tussies' Mussies," located in one of the older homes in town. I asked my mother about the name, and she said only that it was an old name for a bouquet.
 

Eark

Private
Joined
Apr 6, 2019
Messages
27
#9
Thanks for sharing this history & various similar forms Eleanor Rose
I enjoy wearing a silver posy pin that secures the stem only.
19thC tussie mussie floral containers pictured on garment buttons are typically misidentified as cornucopia. Flowers instead of fruit the overlooked clue.
 
Joined
Aug 25, 2013
Messages
8,526
Location
Hannover, Germany
#11
Funny, here in Germany, when you call a girl or a woman a "Tussie" that is absolutely no compliment - it means that this girl or woman behaves strangely or is swaggering and boasting in a way and thinks too highly of herself…

I always wondered where that word may have come from. I think this is the explanation! Thank you!
 


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