A timeless flower, the rose is no-doubt a symbol of some very powerful emotions. From love, passion and admiration, to name but a few, roses are the perfect embodiment of our strongest feelings and desires.
Roses have always been a popular choice, whether for anniversaries, birthdays, promotions, or any other special occasion. However, choosing the right bloom may not always be as simple as it seems. Factors like colour, culture, and even the number of stems can express different meanings.
Roses throughout the ages
Roses have been sought after for millennia and have a rich cultural history. Their cultivation most likely began in Asia about 5,000 years ago. Confucius wrote of growing roses in the Imperial Gardens about 500 B.C. and mentioned that the emperor’s library contained hundreds of books on the topic. During the Han dynasty, gardeners cultivated roses which were renowned all throughout the country.
Roses are also revered in the West, and according to an ancient legend, were created by Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. Romans therefore made this flower a symbol of beauty and love, a symbol they still carry to this day.
As a symbol of vanity during the Roman Empire, emperors used to shower their guests with tons of rose petals during lavish dinners. Roses can however also mean secrecy or confidentiality. The term “sub rosa”, meaning under the rose, comes from ancient times when Romans would hang roses from the ceilings of banquet halls, and it was understood that anything said under the influence of wine was to remain confidential.
The rose also became the symbol of the civil wars that took place in the 15th century in England. The House of Lancaster took the symbol of a red rose, while the House of York chose a white rose. Many years later, the two roses were combined into one symbol. The Tudor Rose became the Rose of England, which continues to be one of the most identifiable symbols in the UK.
In Ancient Egypt, roses were also cherished and petals have been discovered in many tombs. Paintings of roses were even discovered in the tomb of the pharaoh Thutmose IV, a ruler of the 18th dynasty.
Rose Meanings in Different Cultures
In Catalonia, Spain, the 23rd of April is St. George day, where tradition holds that people offer red roses to their partners as a symbol of their love.
Similarly in Italy, red roses are also considered the flower of love and passion and roses are among the most frequently bought flowers. here the number of roses in a bouquet also has meaning. Roses in even numbers are associated with mourning and are reserved for grieving and funerals.
White roses, in Germany, express condolences and are commonly found at funerals. This sentiment is also shared widely throughout the Anglo-Saxon world. For example, in Wales, white roses represent innocence and silence and are often placed on the grave of a young child.
“Rose Day” is celebrated in Korea on the 14th of May. Much like in Catalonia and Italy, couples exchange fresh roses to express their love and devotion to each other.
In Japan, flowers are a traditional gift for both men and women. White roses stand for innocence, purity, and silence while red roses are a powerful symbol of romance, love, and passion.
Rose Colours and Symbolism
In Australia we breed roses in a large variety of different colours and each colour has its own distinct meaning and symbolism. To help choose the most appropriate rose for any given occasion, we’ve listed some of the different rose colours and their meanings so you can send the right message to that special someone.
A symbol of deep love, romantic feelings, and desire. Red roses convey very strong and passionate emotions which makes them a perfect choice for couples.
Often associated with purity, innocence, and spirituality. White roses are often used in weddings and baptisms because they represent new beginnings and hope. They are also often seen in funerals to express remembrance, love, and respect for the departed person.
Pink Roses are very versatile and can convey a lot of different meanings.
Deep pink is a fantastic choice if you want to express gratitude to a friend.
Light pink signifies happiness, gentleness, admiration, and grace and is perfect for young love and friendship. They also work well in an arrangement with orange or yellow roses.
Convey enthusiasm, energy, and passion. These vibrant beauties communicate positive energy and are perfect for birthdays, anniversaries, and any celebratory occasions.
These roses used to symbolise negative feelings such as jealousy, conflict, and infidelity in the Victorian era. Lucky for us their meaning has changed over the years and yellow roses have now become associated with friendship, warmth and caring. With their bright and cheerful hues, they’re certainly a great choice if you want to brighten up someone’s day!
An extraordinary and rare hue. Lavender roses are often used to convey feelings of enchantment, adoration, and love. They are an ideal choice for those who want to express sincere appreciation and love for someone
Green roses can represent a lot of different meanings. One of the most significant meanings might be hope and fertility which makes them ideal if you want to give roses to friends who are welcoming a new baby or wants to have kids. Green roses also signify cheerfulness and rejuvenation.
Though generally known to convey positive feelings, some people also associate this colour with jealousy and envy.
Numbers and Roses
The number of stems is also often considered when gifting roses as they can carry a different set of meanings. Numbers play a big role in the message you're trying to send.
1 rose of any colour: Thank you or could also express love at first sight
2 Roses: Deep love
3 Roses: I love you, often reserved for anniversaries
6 Roses: I love you, I miss you
7 Roses: I’m infatuated with you.
8 Roses: A symbol of support for friends or family
9 Roses: Eternal love, as long as we live.
12 Roses: Perfect love
The Right Message with the Right Rose
While it’s difficult to find consistency in the symbolism of roses as their meaning changes over time and vary depending on where you are, playing with the number of stems and their hues is still a great way to share your feelings and offers a richness of emotion.
Now that you know the symbolism of roses, you can select and send a bouquet of roses that expresses exactly the sentiment you are going for. You can even send an especially thoughtful and meaningful message by mixing and matching different colours!