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How the Red Rose Became the Ultimate Symbol of Love

Posted on 04/11/2021

Send Red Roses in LondonWhen you think of a symbol of love, odds are that hearts and roses come to mind. And it is no wonder that the rose, in particular the red rose, has been associated with romantic love for centuries. But while most people know it is the flower of love, not many people know why or how this reputation came about.

Legends about Roses in Ancient Greek History

If you go a long, long way back to the ancient Greek gods, then you can connect the simple rose to Eros, the god of love. In mythology, Chloris, the goddess of flowers, transformed a sad nymph into the most beautiful flower, and Aphrodite saw it and named it a rose in honour of her son Eros.

Aphrodite is also connected with roses in another story, where she raced through rose bushes to warn her mortal lover Adonis of a plot against his life. As she tore through a bush, she was scratched and injured. Too late to save Adonis, she cried upon his body, and her blood mingled with tears, signifying red as the colour of love.

How Romans Used the Rose

Moving on a bit, the Romans used roses in matrimonial rituals. Roses were used to constructing crowns that adorned newly married couples' heads. Then rose petals were spread across the matrimonial bed ahead of the wedding night. This tradition is actually still in practice today, with red rose petals being strewn across honeymoon suits on the wedding night, or just generally used in seduction. The Roman tradition began the connection between roses and sexual desire and marriage.

Racing through history to the War of the Roses in the 15th Century, where two kings were engaged in battle. Each one had a rose as a symbol of their rule, and when the battle was done, thanks to Henry Tudor besting Richard II. The marriage between Henry and Elizabeth signified the union between the two factions, and the red rose became the symbol of the Tudor reign.

Shakespear's Rose Obsession

During the Elizabethan era, Shakespear began his compositions and routinely used roses in his works, often as a symbol for love, thus continuing its long tradition of being the romantic flower. Red roses were also the most commonly available at this time, so red was the de facto colour.

Using this historical meaning, flowers were soon after used as messages between individuals, in particular as symbols of affection. Building on what had already come before, the official flower dictionary described red roses as the symbol of passion, love, and romantic affection. Sending or receiving a red rose was a big statement at the time and a clear sign to the other that the affection was intense and true.

Roses are Symbol of Love also in Eastern Cultures

Cheap Flower Delivery in UKAnd that is just the western interpretations of the red rose. In Eastern cultures, red roses are also a symbol of love and affection. In the Hindu religion, for example, Vishnu’s wife and goddess of fortune was created from 1008 small red rose petals and 108 large red roses. This has ever since created a link between love and roses in Hinduism.

Arab Cultures and the Legend of the White Rose

In ancient stories in the Arab cultures, red roses were also a symbol of intense love. One such story describes how a nightingale fell in love with a white rose so deeply that it pressed its chest against the thorn. The thorn pierced it, causing the bird to bleed onto the white rose, turning it red. This story symbolises the intensity of love and roses connection to deep love.

And don’t forget that it is not just the colour, but also the number of roses that send a message. One red rose says I am yours, while a dozen roses Be mine, with lots of variations in between.

Yvonne Glover
Yvonne Glover

As both an expert florist and manager, Yvonne excels in creating the ideal bouquet for any occasion. Her reliability and attention to detail are indicative of her significant experience in the florist industry.