The rose, a timeless and beloved flower, holds many meanings and much symbolism across different countries and cultures.
With their beauty, versatility and classic shape, it’s hardly surprising that roses are such a popular choice for special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, Mother's Day and (of course) Valentine's Day.
Over the years, roses have come to symbolise some of our strongest feelings, such as love, passion and admiration. Whether you want to express love, friendship, or joy, there’s a rose for every emotion and occasion.
However, choosing the right flower for a loved one isn’t always as simple as it seems.
Not only do roses symbolise different things depending on their colour, their meanings can also vary between cultures. Even the number of roses can express different meanings!
If you love roses but aren’t sure which ones to pick, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn about the different meanings and symbolism of roses.
Rose Symbolism Throughout the Ages
Humanity’s love affair with roses can be traced back to ancient times.
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.
Red roses feature in a number of legends in ancient Greek mythology, particularly in relation to the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. As a result, the Romans made the rose a symbol of beauty and love — a sentiment that endures to this day.
In the Roman Empire, roses symbolised vanity. Emperors were known to shower their guests with rose petals during lavish dinners.
But a rose could also mean secrecy or confidentiality. The term “sub rosa,", which literally means "under the rose," dates back to ancient times when the Romans would hang roses from the ceilings of banquet halls. It meant that what was said under the influence of wine would remain confidential.
The rose also became the symbol of the civil wars that took place in 15th century England, which would become known as the Wars of the Roses. The House of Lancaster chose 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.
What Roses Mean in Different Cultures
Today, roses are pretty much a universal symbol of love, with the meaning being shared across various cultures.
Across much of the world, the red rose in particular is associated with love and romance, which is why it is the ultimate symbol of Valentine's Day. No flower is more highly sought after than red roses on February 14th.
In Catalonia, Spain, a St. George’s Day tradition holds that people offer roses to their partners as a symbol of love. Celebrated annually on April 23rd, the day is also known as "El Dia de la Rosa" or "The Day of the Rose", and sees an exchange of roses and books between sweethearts.
Similarly in Italy, red roses symbolise love and passion and are among the most frequently-bought flowers.
Korea celebrates Rose Day on May 14th, when 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: Which One Should I Pick?
In Australia, we breed roses in a large variety of different colours, and each colour has its own distinct meaning and symbolism.
We’ve created a list of different rose colours and their meanings so that you can pick the right colour.
The red rose is a symbol of love, romance, and desire, which makes it a perfect choice for couples.
White roses are often used in weddings and baptisms because they symbolise new beginnings, hope, innocence and purity.
They are also used at funerals to express remembrance, love, and respect for the departed. Explore our range of sympathy flowers to help you express your condolences when words alone won't suffice.
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 roses symbolise happiness, gentleness, admiration, and grace and are perfect for conveying young love and friendship.
They also work well in an arrangement with orange or yellow roses.
In the Victorian era, the yellow rose symbolised jealousy, conflict, and infidelity.
Lucky for us, the meaning of this rose has changed over the years and it has now become associated with friendship, warmth and caring.
This cheerful flower is 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.
Lavender or purple roses 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 who want to have kids.
Green roses also symbolise cheerfulness and rejuvenation. But be warned, the green rose may also represent jealousy and envy in some cultures.
The Number of Roses Also Holds Meaning
Now that you know what different coloured roses symbolise, let’s explore another important factor.
The number of stems in your bouquet of roses is important, as each number conveys a different meaning.
- 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
Send the Right Message with the Right Rose
The symbolism and meaning of roses has evolved over the centuries, and in some cases, has changed completely.
Regardless of their changing meanings, our love for roses endures.
Now that you know what roses symbolise, you can find the right hue and arrangement for your special someone.
At Floraly, we are passionate about the quality and freshness of our flowers, including our roses. We’re here to help you express meanings and messages to your loved ones, and we take our part in that seriously.
We deliver our flowers in bud wherever possible, so that they can bloom in the recipient’s home and last as long as possible.
You can also add chocolate or wine to your choice of flowers and send a personalised message with the free card we include with all orders to give your loved one an even more special experience.
So, what are you waiting for? Send beautiful roses to that special someone today!