Flowers and churches have a special bond. Churches often adorn their altars to coordinate with the season or holiday being celebrated. In fact, specific arrangements are used for each of the major church holidays, as well as for weddings. Some churches even make sure a new arrangement is in place on the altar each weekend.
During the time leading up to Christmas, many churches use reds and greens in their altar arrangements. In addition to red flowers, such as roses, poinsettias and carnations, the arrangements may contain pine boughs, green hydrangea, white lilies and white roses. Some churches choose to work with red, green and white in the weeks leading up to Christmas and then change to all white flowers and greenery for Christmas Day.
Following Christmas, the Epiphany season is marked by the colours white and gold. Greenery is also commonly used in altar arrangements during this time period. Though the primary colours are considered to be white and gold, it is acceptable to use any colour flowers in the altar arrangements. If the church uses a florist for arrangements, the florist can suggest good types of flowers to use for the arrangements based on availability and design.
The time leading up to Holy Week does not require flowers on the altar as it is a reminder of the walk to the cross. For Palm Sunday, the altar arrangements can contain ferns, such as jade, leatherleaf and Boston, which can look similar to palm leaves and can be used to symbolise the palms laid in Jesus's path. For Good Friday, the altar should be left bare to represent the suffering of Christ. On Easter Sunday, many churches use many flowers, including the altar flowers, to represent the rising of Jesus. Easter lilies, tulips, daffodils and purple hydrangea are some of the commonly used Easter flowers.
The altar arrangements that are used during weddings are left up to the individual couple. Some churches keep the arrangements up for Sunday services while others place their own arrangements. Check with your individual church to find out if there are any restrictions as to the altar arrangements. For the most part, use the same flowers that are in their other floral arrangements, such as bouquets and boutonnières. Keep in mind that floral arrangements for the altar should be large to avoid getting lost on the altar.
During the autumn months, flowers are not as common, but altar arrangements can easily use other items. Carnations, gerbera daisies and chrysanthemums are flowers that are often used in the autumn. In addition to the flowers, you can also use seedpods, tall grasses and other greenery in the altar arrangements. Bright colours, such as orange, yellow and red, are good autumnal colours, help brighten up the altar and draw attention to the front.
- National Altar Guild: Church blossoms - the colours of Christmas
- National Altar Guild: Flower notes - Advent
- National Altar Guild: Flower notes - Epiphany
- National Altar Guild: Holy Week, Easter and Spring Flowers; Clara Fowler
- Flower Duet: Spring flower design gallery -- red & pink altar
- National Altar Guild: Fall flower notes