October birthdays are symbolised by the calendula flower, their warm yellow and orange petals fitting perfectly as an autumnal birth flower.
The Aztecs were some of the earliest peoples to use the calendula for both their magical and medicinal properties, with intriguing recordings of their being used to treat patients struck by lightning and as a protection for those crossing waterways.
Now, calendulas are cultivated in many different parts of the world with countries having their own traditions and uses for the flowers.
In Mexico and some other South American countries, calendula petals are scattered on the Day of the Dead to help spirits of departed loved ones find their way home. In India, calendula garlands adorn some Deities in Hindu celebrations, while in the UK the calendula is perhaps better known as a bright garden flower, sometimes adorning summer salads, and also for its medicinal properties still used today. I remember calendula cream being used on many a grazed childhood knee!
Marigold, the calendula's common name, is thought to be a reference to the Virgin Mary, as the flowers were brought to statues of Mary by early Catholics.
Sometimes used by gardeners as a deterrent for pests in the garden, the calendula plant is also thought to help keep mosquitoes at bay if grown by windows and doorways.
Symbolic flower meanings include passion, creativity, and in the Victorian language of flowers, sympathy, with a bouquet of calendulas conveying that the giver was thinking of the recipient.