ITALY: Flower to Mussolini

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To most Orientals as to most Europeans a chrysanthemum is only a chrysanthemum. But there are two outstanding exceptions. In Japan, it has been the "Sacred Flower" for more than 1,000 years. No Japanese except royalty may use the full or 16-petal chrysanthemum device, but with fewer petals the chrysanthemum figures in countless Japanese designs, supposedly lucky. In Italy, however, to present a living man with a chrysanthemum is to wish him bad luck, for chrysanthemums are considered ideal flowers for graves.

Last week, short-sighted Japanese Emperor Hirohito, the not-too-alert Son of Heaven, sent to his Fascist ally Premier Benito Mussolini the highest decoration in the gift of His Imperial Majesty. Italian papers proudly reported that Il Duce had received the Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Japanese Empire, did not mention that it consisted of a decoration in the form of a flower, that its proper name was the "Order of the Chrysanthemum."