There’s no flower more classically associated with love than a rose. In particular, red roses have come to signify passionate love, which is why they are the most popular flower gifted to romantic partners on Valentine’s Day. The connection between roses and love dates back to ancient times, and has strengthened over the centuries through the flower’s depiction in art and literature.
It isn’t possible to know exactly when roses became a popular flower. While written sources have recorded them for thousands of years, archaeological discoveries have found rose petals in ancient Egyptian tombs far older than that. Some of our earliest references to roses being a flower of love come from Greek and Roman mythology. The rose was considered sacred to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, though there are many mythological explanations of how the rose was created to choose from. In one story, red roses got their hue from her blood, when she stepped on a rose thorn while hurrying to the side of her wounded mortal lover, Adonis. This association of roses and the goddess of love transferred to Roman mythology and Aphrodite’s counterpart in the Roman pantheon, Venus.
Roses also make frequent appearances in poetry and literature, reinforcing the connection between the beautiful flower and love. In the middle ages, the French poem “Romance of the Rose” used the flower as a metaphor for the art of love. Shakespeare illustrated an analogy with it in the romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet, when his star-crossed heroine agonizes over the misfortune of her beloved belonging to her family’s rival house: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Scottish poet Robert Burns directly compares his sweetheart to the bloom, declaring, “O my Luve’s like a red, red rose / That’s newly sprung in June.”
In the 1800s, the Victorians codified the traditional meanings of many flowers into floriography, the language of flowers, using the meanings they assigned to flowers to send bouquets full of hidden messages to their friends and lovers. This tradition reaffirmed the connection between love and roses, with different colors of roses symbolizing different nuances and types of love. For example, yellow roses symbolize friendship, while purple roses indicate fascination or adoration.
With so many varieties and colors of roses to choose from, it’s not hard to understand why roses are an enduringly popular flower. From fragrant garden roses to showy hybrids in unusual hues, there are roses to please every taste. Roses also look lovely whether they are on their own or combined with other flowers, which makes them endlessly versatile.
Roses speak to our hearts, as shown by the long history of love associated with them. At Rachel Cho Floral Design, we appreciate the unique stories linked to the flowers we work with. We love to create arrangements that use color, form, and texture to provide inspiration as well as highlight the character of the flowers they include. For help with all your floral needs, large or small, contact us today.