The Language of the Rose
February 12th, 2005
The history of the rose goes far back. The Greeks revered the red rose as having come from the blood of Adonis; the Romans used roses in their parties and thought nothing of carpeting the floor with rose petals; the Persians associated the rose with the heart; the early Christians made the rose a symbol of love in connection with the Virgin Mary and Christ’s Blood.
The Victorians even talked in roses, and some of that language still survives today. A red rose, of course, signifies respect and love. A yellow rose, in Victorian times, meant a jealous suitor but today means friendship. The white rose signified innocence and purity. In the US, white roses are often used at weddings and have acquired the additional meaning of happiness and security. Pink roses are often used to signify appreciation or gratitude. White and red roses together signify unity. White roses fringed in red have come to mean the same thing.
The Victorians used more than just colors. Two roses bound together signified an engagement. A thornless rose signified love at first sight. A wilted rose, of course, signified rejection. There were also meanings in rosebuds, half-open buds and roses in full bloom, as well as meanings in the number of roses given; 50 roses, for instance, signified unconditional love and 25 roses were given as congratulations.
For Valentine’s Day, rather than give any number of individual roses, why not give a rose bush? There may be no meaning in the language of roses for a rose bush but in the language of gardeners, it’s surely a gift of love!