When I moved to the US, I immediately noticed that there were far less flower shops than in France and that American people I invited for dinner always volunteered to bring an appetizer or dessert, something that is rarely done in France, except with family members or close friends. On the other hand, French people always bring a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine, often both, when invited over, something less systematic from American people, at least in the early 1990s. So again, this is natural that one of the most popular French idiomatic expressions has a floral connotation.
JETER DES FLEURS (À QUELQU’UN OU À SOI MÊME)
TO THROW FLOWERS (TO SOMEONE OR TO ONESELF)
TO SHOWER (SOMEONE OR ONESELF) WITH COMPLIMENTS
The expression Jeter des Fleurs has evolved from Tresser des Couronnes (To Braid a Wreath), originating from the 11th century. Wreaths made out of leaves and flowers symbolized dignity. By extension, offering such a wreath to someone would express a compliment. French people still use the older expression Tresser des Couronnes, although I think that Jeter des Fleurs is more widely said. Qu’en pensez-vous les français?
Jeter des Fleurs can also mean to brag if you “Throw Flowers to Yourself.”
For example, you can say “Je me jette des fleurs” if you are especially proud of one of your accomplishments.
You could also say, “Sans me jeter des fleurs,” which literally means, “Without throwing flowers to myself,” or “Ce n’est pas pour me jeter des fleurs,” which means, “It’s not to throw flowers to myself.”
These sentences appear to express humility, while in fact they shout self-satisfaction. A “but…” or “still,” are implied, reinforcing the complacency feeling.
Using a negation is frequent in French when we want to increase the meaning of a sentence.
My American-born children have a hard time to understand why the French say no when they mean yes. Some linguistic tricks are hard to explain when you’ve learned them at a young age.
Sixteen more letters to go! Thank you for keeping me company. See you tomorrow.