A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

Recent entries:
“You can be a night owl AND an early bird if your sleep schedule’s messed up enough” (12/6)
“I wish I was as thin as my patience” (12/6)
“Never read the last line of a play at a rehearsal” (theatre superstition) (12/6)
Graveyard Bouquet (12/6)
Entry in progress—BP (12/6)
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Entry from December 06, 2022
Graveyard Bouquet

A superstition in the theater is, supposedly, that on the closing night of a show, the director and/or leading lady receives a bouquet of flowers stolen from a graveyard. This supposedly brings good luck, and also symbolizes the death of the show. The people who worked on the show usually didn’t have enough money to buy flowers, so they stole them from a cemetery.

The “graveyard bouquet” is often said to be an old custom that is no longer practiced. However, articles about this alleged custom have appeared in the 2000s, but do not seem to date before this.


Toby Simkin
Theatre Superstition
Giving Flowers

It’s considered good luck traditionally to give the director and/or the leading lady, after closing night, a bouquet of flowers stolen from a graveyard (never give flowers before a performance – They are yet to earn them so it’s bad luck!)

The History: Graveyard flowers are given on closing night to symbolize the death of the show, and that it can now be put to rest. The rational origin is that theatre was, as most people who have worked in the industry will tell you, never a greatly profitable profession and despite being macabre, graves were a great source of free flowers.

News & Record (Greensboro, NC)
WHAT LIES BEHIND CURTAIN? SUPERSTITIONS
BY LESLIE MIZELL Special to the News & Record Dec 11, 2002 Updated Jan 26, 2015
(...)
Flowers: You shouldn’t give flowers to a performer before a performance, which might be seen as tempting fate. And for some reason - probably thrift to badly paid performers - it’s lucky on closing night to give the director and/or leading lady flowers stolen from a cemetery.

Google Books
The Cockney Sparrow
By Dilly Court
London, UK: Arrow
2007
Pg. 197:
Charlie pulled a face. ‘Don’t you know nothing about the theatre, miss? On the closing night, the leading lady gets a bunch of flowers pinched from a graveyard. I had to risk life and limb to get them for you. It’s tradition. So there!’

Listverse
THE ARTS | AUGUST 20, 2010
Top 10 Theater Superstitions
by Molly
(...)
7 Graveyard Gift
It’s considered good luck traditionally to give the director and/or the leading lady, after closing night, a bouquet of flowers stolen from a graveyard (never give flowers before a performance – They are yet to earn them so it’s bad luck!)

Graveyard flowers are given on closing night to symbolize the death of the show, and that it can now be put to rest. The rational origin is that theater was, as most people who have worked in the industry will tell you, never a greatly profitable profession and despite being macabre, graves were a great source of free flowers.

Google Books
Haunted Monticello, Florida
By Betty Davis, ‎Big Bend Ghost Trackers
Charleston, SC: Haunted America (The History Press)
2011
Pg. ?:
Even in the early days of live theater, it was considered customary and good luck to give the director and the leading lady, after closing night, a bouquet of flowers. Back in Mr. Perkins’s day, the flowers were thought to have to come from the graveyard. Graveyard flowers were given on closing night to symbolize the death of the show.

Twitter
🎰
@nihilistprqueen
it’s theatre tradition to give the director a bouquet of flowers stolen from a graveyard closing night..this shall be fun @rebeccaraminhos !
5:33 PM · Feb 28, 2012

Twitter
greenroomproductions
@TheGreenRoomP
Theatre Superstition: It’s considered good luck to give the director, after closing night, a bouquet of flowers stolen from a graveyard.
3:22 PM · Jun 25, 2013

Twitter
THEATRE TECHIE TWEET
@Tweettechie
Theatre Superst: Considered good luck to give the director/or the Llady, after closing night, a bouquet of flowers stolen from a graveyard.
1:43 AM · Jul 12, 2013

Performer Stuff
10 Theatre Superstitions (And Where They Come From)
Written by Ashleigh Gardner
August 8, 2016
(...)
6. Give the gift of graveyard flowers.
Superstition:
It’s considered good luck to give actors flowers from a graveyard after the closing night of a show.

Origin: Many times, performers and their actor friends wouldn’t have enough money to buy fresh flowers from the market, so they went to a local cemetery and took flowers that had been left on a grave. Graveyard flowers are also given on closing night to represent the death of the show and the transient nature of theatre. (These days, it’s generally frowned upon to steal flowers from your local graveyard. Stick to aging your own bouquet by buying them a few days ahead of time.)

Ballet Webb
Saturday, July 14, 2018
Saturday Superstition Graveyard Bouquet
Following the closing night of a show it is traditional to give the director (and/or the leading lady), a bouquet of flowers stolen from a graveyard. Presumably, this is done to signify the end (or death) of a production, hence the graveyard flowers.

Or, more likely, since performers are not usually paid well, they stole flowers from a graveyard as a way to pinch pennies and still offer congratulations to their boss and/or leading actor. Perhaps to butter them up for the next audition?

Theatre Haus
Superstitions of a Theatrical Proportion
by Elodie Boal March 12, 2020
(...)
Give the director a Graveyard bouquet
Following on from the etiquette of flower giving, an old tradition was to give the director of a show a bouquet of flowers stolen from a graveyard. This macabre and downright creepy gesture was thought to be symbolic and denote the end of a production, or rather the production’s death. Historically, actors didn’t make a lot of money and so this was an inexpensive way to say thank you. But like all absurd traditions, we’re happy to let this one die itself.

Twitter
After Digital
@AfterDigitalUK
It’s #FridayThe13th a day those who are superstitious consider to be bad luck 😖
We know from our clients in the arts & culture industry that there are many superstitions in theatre! From ‘break a leg’ to graveyard flowers, here are 13 of the most common!👇
(The following text is shown on an image.—ed.)
10. once the production finishes, it is considered good luck to give the director flowers stolen from a graveyard
8:01 AM · Mar 13, 2020

Broadway Direct
13 THEATER SUPERSTITIONS
MARK A. ROBINSON | OCTOBER 26, 2020
(...)
Give the director a Graveyard Bouquet.
When a theater production closes, it is considered good luck to give the director a bouquet of flowers stolen from a graveyard. This macabre symbolic gesture (theater folk love their symbolism) obviously denotes the end of a production (its death). Historically, actors did not make a lot of money, so one might assume that this was an inexpensive way to say thank you to their director while buttering him up for the next round of auditions.

Twitter
PrairieBones
@PrairieBones
After the closing night of a show, it is considered good luck to give the director and/or leading lady a bouquet of flowers stolen from a graveyard. This symbolizes the death of the production. #FolkloreThursday #ofdarkandmacabre
🥀Alyssa Thorne
11:26 AM · Nov 24, 2022

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film/Circus • Tuesday, December 06, 2022 • Permalink


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