Red Roses – Deep Meaning, Ancient Roots

Hi there, it’s Ken Bolt from Brant Florist it’s almost universally understood that red roses mean love and romance. They are the traditional Valentine’s Day gift between lovers and will pack every florists shop from February 1 until after the holiday.

The meanings and symbolism behind red roses, however, are deep-rooted and ancient. For centuries of human history, the red petals of the rose have sparked relationships and spoken passion and desire.

Red itself is a profound colour of emotion. In the West, it is a colour that signifies both danger and love – two things that aren’t always separate. Both the Greeks and the Romans gave special significance to the red rose particularly, tying it in with their goddesses of love. During banquets commemorating goddesses like Aphrodite and Venus, red roses would festoon the temples and the petals of flowers would cover the floors. Rose petals would also be put into the drinks and were thought to be aphrodisiacs for the occasion of lovers.

During Roman times, it became common for peasants to raise roses to give as tribute to their rulers, especially the emperor. Later, roses were often used to pay debts to sovereigns due to their association with wealth and power. The common hobby garden of roses didn’t leave the rich’s purview until the 19th century.

Rose petals
Rose petals

The tradition of giving flowers as gifts between friends and lovers, however, didn’t really come about until the Middle Ages, when lovers began to give them as tokens of affection. A Swedish King popularized the idea of sending flowers when he used them to send messages in the 1700s, copying from the Persian use of flowers as messenger’s tools to keep the enemy from understanding the true message. For the Swede, obviously, the reasons were less tactical.

Today, the mixture of the Swedish tradition, the Roman and Greek meanings, and the modern proclivity for things of beauty have all come together. The ultimate expression of these is through the gift of red roses for Valentine’s Day (or any other day) to tell a lover your feelings towards them.

In fact, roses have gone beyond this with colours tilting the rainbow and signifying all types of meaning to those who send and receive them. There are over 100 species of rose and the name itself comes from the Latin ‘rosa.’

Whatever your occasion or whatever the reason, giving a single or a full bouquet of roses is the best way to signify meaning and devotion to your chosen one.

Until next time,

Ken Bolt