Don't get Red Roses on V'Day!


As Valentine’s Day approaches, the Iconoclast in me kicks in.  I want to know WHY there are so many RED ROSES on V’Day.  I like roses.  And I love Red.  But there are SO many other colored roses, not to mention other flowers, that speak the language of love.  So I’ll share some of my research with you and hope you too will give second thought to some other floral expressions of love…

The tradition of Red Roses for V’day harkens back to the nineteenth century when Victorians used floral bouquets to deliver a message to love interests — that they were, in fact, interested. This system is called "floriography," and it officially solidified the rose's romantic status. 

Cultivation of roses dates back 5,000 years ago, in eastern Asia, probably China. Later in the Roman period, they were raised in the Middle East and used as perfume, party decor and medicine. Most of the roses we see today can be traced back to the late 1700s, when they began to trickle into Europe. The flower itself may not be the only reason for its expression of love. The color of traditional roses, red, represents passion.

Red roses, have been a powerful symbol of passion for many cultures through the ages. The rose was sacred to a number of goddesses including Isis of Egypt, and the ancient Greeks and Romans identified the rose with their goddesses of love, Aphrodite and Venus. Rosa sp. Rose (purple)

According to Jean-Michel Othoniel in his gorgeous book “”The Secret Language of Flowers” (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) , “During antiquity the rose was believed to have emerged after the death of Adonis, Aphrodite’s lover: his blood produced the first red roses.  The purple rose then became the symbol of loves power to conquer death, and also the symbol of rebirth.  Since ancient times, roses have been left on graves because they are the symbol of regeneration.”

The History of Roses

The rose is, according to fossil evidence, 35 million years old. In nature, the genus Rosa has some 150 species spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, from Alaska to Mexico and including northern Africa. They were used as confetti at celebrations, for medicinal purposes, and as a source of perfume. Roman nobility established large public rose gardens in the south of Rome. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the popularity of roses seemed to rise and fall depending on gardening trends of the time.

However, Jean-Michel Othoniel continues:

“Rosa sp. Rose (red)

The red rose, in particular when it has thorns, expresses the Passion of Christ. Its shape evokes the cup that received Christ’s blood, its dispersed petals, the martyrs. 

Together the rose and the lily form a symbol of the earth’s gratitude for the blood spilled by Christ.”

That, my friends, is NOT romantic

Elise BernhardtComment