Today the orchid typically symbolizes, luxury, refinement, beauty and strength. However this flower has had various meaning for different cultures, including the Aztec culture, ancient Greek culture, and Chinese culture.
The modern connotation that orchids have of refinement and luxury was developed in the Victorian period, where the plants were collected and displayed as treasures. This inclination to covet these flowers gave them the significance that they still have today.
Victorians were not the first to find significance in the flower. In ancient Chinese culture, orchids were thought to have healing properties and were used to treat various coughs and lung illnesses.
In Aztec culture, vanilla orchids and chocolate were part of a drink created to bring a person strength and power. This means that the Aztecs associated the orchid with these characteristics.
The ancient Greeks had another, diverse, significance for the orchid. The orchid was believed to be the flower representation of virility. There is also a ritual associated with the flower that parents performed. They thought that if the father of an unborn child ate the large tubers produced by new orchids the child would be male. Conversely, if the mother ate small tubers from orchids it was believed that the baby would be a girl.