The Secret Lives of Roses: History, Lore & Why We Give Them

Roses have a certain je ne sais quoi about them. Their soft petals paired with unforgiving thorns speak to us, and have made them one of the most popular flowers of all time. Even still, there are many beautiful flowers to choose from, so why is it that the rose is the iconic choice, and the stuff of lyrics, poetry, and art? For that, you’ll need to travel back in time.

A Rose By Any Other Name…

Talk of roses reaches as far back as Confucius, who reportedly wrote about them being in the Imperial Gardens around 500 BC, though experts believe the genus Rosa actually appeared in Asia more than 60 million years ago. Their history is also intertwined with Greek and Roman mythology. The famed Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, is often credited with creating the rose, though there are variations to the myth. In one, she rushed to her beloved Adonis as he perished, cutting her feet in the thickets as she ran. Crimson roses sprung up from the ground where her blood drops fell, a continuous reminder of her intense affection. In another myth, Aphrodite held Adonis as he slipped away, and where her tears of anguish touched the ground, pure white roses emerged. The name of the flower has been credited to Aphrodite as well, as some myths say she offered it as a gesture to her son, Eros, though others claim Flora, the goddess of flowers, also named it for Eros after being struck by one of his arrows. We have Eros to blame for the thorns, too. His arrows rained down and impaled the stems of roses as he sought vengeance against a bee that stung him. Of course, no matter where it emerged from or how it got its name, the rose will always smell sweet.

Roses Have Been Used as Secret Messages for Generations

The Victorian Era was rather obsessed with presenting themselves properly in polite society, while secretly giving away signals of things that ladies and gentlemen simply did not speak of. Although they managed this in written word and art quite frequently, it’s often overlooked that they attached meanings to specific flowers. The term is referred to as “floriography,” and countless guides and manuals were circulated to help people say just the right thing, without giving away their intentions to others. While the traditional red rose for “love” was true then as well, the leaves could mean “hope,” a white blossom might refer to “purity,” and a yellow would refer to “friendship.” However, if a bouquet containing 11 red roses and a single yellow was delivered, the recipient was to understand that, together, the flowers were sending a message of love and passion.

The Modern Rose is a Legend in its Own Right

Whether we’re subconsciously swayed by mythology or are continuing the floriographic past, roses still have deep meanings when we give them today. Often times, a single red rose is given to a new romantic interest, while a dozen roses symbolize the 12 months of the year, suggesting never-ending love. Adding one more to the bouquet may represent “forever and a day,” and multiples of 12 are used to signify head-over-heels affection and adoration.

Send Your Message by Ordering Flowers Online

No matter what your message is, Bloom Magic can handcraft the perfect rose bouquet to express it. Get flowers delivered simply by choosing from a variety of gorgeous, fresh roses that are sure to make the impression you desire.