With the name “Sunflower Movement,” participants were harkening back to Taiwan’s history of student movements. The 1990 Wild Lily Movement (野百合運動), for example, a student occupation of public space which was an instrumental event in the history of Taiwanese democratization, was also named after a flower. The Wild Strawberry Movement also followed this naming pattern. In this way, the name “Sunflower Movement” was a reference to the history of Taiwanese social movements, particularly to Taiwan’s history of democratic student movements.
Photo credit: Abby Chen/Flickr/CC
Some have also suggested that the naming of the Sunflower Movement reflects the efforts of the movement to distinguish itself from China and attempts at international outreach. The word for “Sunflower” used by the movement (太陽花) is not usually how sunflowers are referred to in Chinese (向日葵), but is a term for sunflower taken from English.
As for how sunflowers came to be adopted as a symbol by the movement itself, several stories circulate. Some claim that sunflowers were discovered on the speaker’s podium in the Legislative Yuan, leading to sunflowers becoming circulated among the demonstrators. Others state that a supportive florist shipped several thousand sunflowers to the occupation on the night of 318 after hearing about the occupation. Either way, by daybreak on the morning of March 19th, sunflowers had been distributed among occupiers who were camped outside of the Legislative Yuan.
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