What Do Roses Symbolize?

“If roses were not special, weeds would not envy them.” — Matshona Dhliwayo

Roses are estimated to be more than 35 million years old and were first cultivated in ancient Persia and China. Long before their introduction into European society in the 18th century, the rose was deeply connected to romantic and spiritual imagery, such as the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Their oils make aromatic perfumes and fragrances, and roses are used as an antiseptic in water for their antibacterial properties.

While roses are often given to romantic interests on special occasions, they can also be given to friends and coworkers as a token of appreciation. Today, there are more than 30,000 different varieties of species and hybrids. But what do roses symbolize? Let's explore the history of roses and learn the significance behind their vibrant colors.

What Do Roses Symbolize?

Roses have long held great significance in religion. In Christianity, the rose has been associated with the Virgin Mary since the Roman Empire. In Islam, roses were displayed in geometrical gardens, and the flower's fragrance was meant to represent the sacredness of the soul. Roses are also closely associated with many cultures and traditions around the world.

In England, the Tudor Rose is the national flower, due in part to the history-changing War of Roses. In Catalonia, Spain, red roses are given to women on Saint Jordi, a holiday similar to Valentine's day. And in the United States, the rose has been the national floral emblem since 1986.

Today, love and romance are the most common answers to the question, what does a rose represent? The long and intricate history of the rose has led the flower to take its place as a timeless gesture of love and affection. They are given to lovers on Valentine's Day, friends on birthdays, and moms on Mother's Day.

What Do Different Color Roses Symbolize?

When deciding which type of rose to gift, consider the message hidden behind the color you choose. Here's our list of the meaning and symbolism behind the most common rose colors:

  • Red Roses:

One of the most popular rose colors, red roses symbolize passion and desire. The number of red roses given is also linked to different meanings. For instance, a single rose reflects love at first sight, whereas the classic bouquet of a dozen roses is a declaration of love. Three roses are given to celebrate a couple's one-month anniversary.
  • White Roses:

A symbol of innocence and purity, white roses are often used at wedding ceremonies due to their association with new beginnings. 
  • Yellow Roses:

Joy and friendship are associated with the yellow rose. They symbolize appreciation and remembrance. While they have a bright and cheerful appearance, they're not often used as gifts for romance.
  • Pink Roses:

Elegance and femininity; light pink roses also represent grace.
  • Orange Roses:

These roses are given when you wish to show admiration or express pride. Orange roses also signify deep and passionate romance.
  • Green Roses:

Green roses are rare, and as a result, they're closely affiliated with hope, life, and rejuvenation.
    "The world is a rose, smell it, and pass it to your friends.” — Persian Proverb

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