The Meaning of Red Roses

The Meaning of Red Roses

The History and Meaning of Red Roses by

Everyone knows that a red rose is a symbol of love and romance. The bright red color evokes the color of heart-blood and the flower’s pristine beauty reflects the beauty of the person who’s receiving it. But roses have been around for some 35 million years, and their symbolism stretches far beyond their current romantic associations.

Religious symbolism

Early Christians equated the five petals of a wild rose with the five wounds of Christ. But the early church wasn’t sure it wanted to associate the rosa sancta with the decadent Romans. Eventually they declared the red rose a symbol of the blood of the martyrs (in early Christianity, there were many). In some Catholic countries, red and white roses together evoke blood and are used in funeral arrangements.

Greek and Roman mythology linked red roses with their respective goddesses of love and romance, Aphrodite and Venus. Archaeologists have found rose wreaths in tombs. Red roses were worn at weddings, essentially typecasting them for the future. But not all red roses have meant love.

Political symbolism

In the 15th century, the house of York and the house of Lancaster had what amounted to a civil war as they fought for control of the throne. There was no “United Kingdom” back then, and the bloody war came to be called the War of the Roses. Why? Because Lancaster used a red rose as its symbol, and York used the white rose. Even today, these symbols live on as the emblem of each county, as does the memory of the war in a not-altogether joking kind of way.

In a rather smart political move, Henry VII of Lancaster, who was the last English monarch to gain a throne on the battlefield, married Elizabeth of York. Their son, Henry VIII, merged both roses into the Tudor Rose, the Rose of England.

Emergence of the cultivated rose

It may surprise you that the rose as we know it didn’t really start to gain popularity until the late 1700s. These roses came over from China. Breeders created hybrids between the red and yellow Chinese flowers and wild roses. From these were developed tea roses that flowered for months, not just during the summer, tea roses, climbing roses and many more.

During hybridization and breeding, large, amazing blossoms were created–but the delicious, heady aroma of roses was lost. Recently, rose growers have attempted to recreate these older roses and produce healthier plants also.

Red roses and romance

And so we turn back to the romantic symbolism of red roses. A single red rose is a pure symbol of love, exquisite in its simplicity and purity. A dozen roses means that you’re thinking of someone all your waking hours. Two dozen? All day, every day.

A hundred? Well, we’ll leave that to your imagination! To send flowers to Bogota or any other city in Latin America please visit

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