History and tradition: why is the red rose the symbol of love?

Published by Cécile de Sortiraparis · Photos by My de Sortiraparis · Published on February 14th, 2024 at 12:40 p.m.
Lovers all over the world are celebrating Valentine's Day this February 14. Many will give themselves a bouquet of red roses to mark the day. But why is this flower the symbol of love?

It's the great classic of lovers' get-togethers: the bouquet of flowers offered to the one you love, the little gesture that proves your affection. But not just any flowers! In this category, the top flower is the red rose. This flower has long been the symbol of love and passion. But why this one and not another?

For centuries, the rose has been linked to love: it was the favorite flower ofAphrodite (Venus in Roman mythology), the goddess of love, beauty and desire!

In Greek mythology, the story of the rose's creation is linked to a tragedy: Chloris, goddess of flowers, is shocked to discover the lifeless body of a nymph. She decides to reincarnate the nymph into a new flower, the rose. She then enlists the help of the other gods: Aphrodite gives beauty to this plant, Dionysus grants it an enchanting perfume and the Charites, goddesses of grace, give it radiance and charm.

According to another story, also from Greek mythology, the rose was created from the blood of Adonis, Aphrodite's human lover. Adonis was killed by Ares, god of war and Aphrodite's official lover. Mad with jealousy, the god sent a boar to get rid of his rival. Wounded, Adonis began to bleed. A tear from Aphrodite mingled with the blood, giving birth to the rose. Many other legends surround this flower, all linking it with Aphrodite,pure love and passion.

Among Hindus, the rose is also synonymous with romance: the goddess Laxmi, goddess of fortune and prosperity and also the wife of Vishnu, was created using 1,008 small red rose petals and 108 large roses.

Time passes, but symbols remain: over the centuries, poets and writers have taken it in turns to make the rose a symbol of love. Sappho (6th century BC) called it the " queen of flowers ". In the Middle Ages, the rose became a metaphor for the woman the gentleman sincerely loved. The white rose was also chosen as a symbol of the Virgin Mary, a sign of pure love.

From Guillaume de Lorris's Roman de la Rose to Charles Perrault, via Ronsard, Corneille and Shakespeare, the rose is in turn a symbol oflove, purity and the passage of time.

But what about today?

Traditions persist, and there are many rules surrounding the rose. On theInterflora blog, we learn about the different messages that can be subtly conveyed with a bouquet of roses.

The florist teaches us how to decipher this flowery language:
" To avoid making any mistakes and to communicate the right message to your loved one, it's a good idea to know the meaning of the most common shades, bearing in mind that the more intense the color, the stronger the message. The same applies to the opening of the bud.

  • Red roses: the gift of red roses symbolizes passion and passion for love. They're ideal if you want to declare your love on Valentine's Day.

  • Orange roses: if, in a friendly context, they can mark admiration, orange roses betray carnal desire in an amorous situation. There's no better way to express the excitement you feel for the person you're courting...

  • Pink roses: along with red roses, they win the majority of votes. A sign of tenderness, gentleness, purity and fidelity, they also allow you to declare your love in a softer, more modest way than with red roses. Pink roses also pay tribute to the beauty of the loved one.

  • White roses: they evoke the purity of love and/or serve to mark a sincere attachment or a desire for peace. They can also express budding love and shyness.

  • Yellow roses: this color should be handled with care, since while it is traditionally a sign of friendship, it can carry less cheerful messages such as a request for forgiveness, jealousy or, worse still, infidelity.

  • Blue roses: this artificially obtained color evokes youth and the wish that wishes come true.

(...) However, if we do things right, we'll remember this:

  • 1 rose means love at first sight
  • 2 roses express forgiveness
  • 12 roses are for thanking a loved one or accompanying a marriage proposal
  • 24 roses are a sign of gallantry
  • 36 roses are ideal for an engagement.
  • 101 roses? There's no doubt about it, you're really hooked!

Don't miss out: for Valentine's Day, a birthday, a date, a special day to celebrate, make a trip to the florist!

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