Whether you’re looking into buying roses for yourself or you want to find some to give to that special someone in your life, you may think it’s as easy as picking out the right color and having the flowers delivered. While the ordering process may be that simple, there’s a lot more to the use of roses than just giving and receiving. Although many people do not stop to consider rose history and just how they’ve come to be what they are today, it’s an interesting journey, and it’s worth checking out.
Below, we’ve outlined three of the most important and greatest moments in the history of roses. Although there are plenty of other big moments to discover when you delve deeper into the specifics, these are key points in history that have helped shape roses into the symbols of love, beauty, romance and passion that they still are. By understanding where roses come from, you can have a better idea of how to use them in your own life. And who knows? You may even get some unique ideas for incorporating them or giving them to others, as well. So let’s get started exploring the greatest moments in rose history.
Although we still use red roses to mean love and consider the rose to be one of the most common symbols of romance, this practice actually dates all the way back to ancient Greece. The rose was tied to the goddess Aphrodite, so from early on, there was a romantic connotation behind the giving and receiving of roses. According to Greek mythology, roses are red because they are stained with Aphrodite’s blood, which was spilled when she pricked her finger on one of their thorns.
The ancient Romans adopted the symbolism of roses from the ancient Greeks, and they also considered rose petals to have some religious meaning. In Roman mythology, rose petals are used to restore humanity to a man who was turned into a donkey, but they also carry over their symbolism of love and romance as well.
As time progressed and Christianity spread to Rome, roses had a bit of a change in use for a little while. At this time, roses were associated with the Virgin Mary, which eventually led to the implementation of the rosary for prayer and ritual purposes. Some artwork and stories incorporate this theme by presenting the Virgin Mary as someone who gave roses to those who worshipped her.
So the next time you show your love with red roses, remember that this has been going on since ancient times, and that you’re taking part in a very rich tradition with a lot of history behind it.
The War of Roses
Some time later, in the 15th century, the War of Roses took place. Although this may sound like a war that was fought because of roses, the name actually comes from the symbols used by both of the warring houses at the time. One side fought under a white rose while the other used a red rose for its insignia. Both sides wanted power in England, and support for both sides throughout the nation caused the situation to grow into a civil war. Eventually, the Tudor family won the war and took over as the rules of the country.
But if this war didn’t have anything to do with real roses, why is it important in the history of roses at all? It was after the war ended that the red and white rose emblems symbolizing the houses were combined to create the Tudor Rose, which is now used as one of the most well-known symbols of England. The Tudor Rose may not be a real, living rose, but its symbolic use and meaningful connection with England makes it just one of the many ways roses have influenced cultures around the world.
It would be some time before roses began to be grown for decorative and even competitive purposes. Although both fresh roses and preserved flowers continued to be given as gifts and dominated the language of flowers for centuries, it was not until the 19th century that the hybridization of roses and their breeding took hold and become a popular hobby. This trend began in France, where a hybrid tea rose was first cultivated. This rose was called “La France” and ushered in a change in the way society thought about and worked with roses in general, and more specifically with unique roses bred for their appearance.
In the same century, Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife Josephine reignited the spark of love for roses in her country and around the world by working to create an elaborate rose garden that she hoped would one day contain every type of rose in existence. Although this never happened, her interest in roses helped secure them as modern symbols of love and beauty that will never fade.
Today, luxury roses are grown and bred around the world, and more strains and hybrids are cultivated every year. Thanks to the important historical events surrounding the use of roses, they continue to be beloved flowers that hold a place in the hearts of many.
When you think about giving a gift of roses—whether they are traditional reds or white, lavender spray roses, bicolor roses or something else altogether—it can be nice to stop and take a moment to remember the history behind these important flowers. They have come a long way from ancient times when they were first associated with love and romance, and they continue to surprise and delight people who receive them as gifts even today.
Considering the many uses of roses throughout history and their deep connotation with and relation to beauty and love, it’s no wonder why these flowers have grown in popularity throughout the centuries. When you buy, give, or receive a bouquet of fresh or exquisitely preserved roses, you’re taking part in a cultural phenomenon that isn’t showing any signs of slowing down in the future.