The message behind your Valentine?s rose Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 29 January 2013 17:35
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As ancient symbols of love and beauty, roses are the favourite flowers bestowed upon one’s beloved on Valentine’s Day.

The rose was sacred to a number of goddesses: The ancient Greeks identified the rose with their goddess of love, Aphrodite, and the Romans with theirs, named Venus.

Roses became popular at Valentine’s Day in the 17th century and over time each colour came to be associated with a specific message. This year, make sure you know the meaning of the colour rose you bestow on your beloved.

Rose picking in the 1870’s. This engraving by Austro-Hungarian traveller Felix Philipp Kanitz depicts the Rose Valley near Kazanlak in Bulgaria
Photo: Wikipedia

Red roses are the ultimate symbol of romantic love and enduring passion. Deep pink roses say thank-you; light pink roses express fun and happiness; and pale pink roses convey grace, gentleness and gratitude.
Don’t send yellow roses if your intentions are romantic and long-lasting. They indicate friendship and freedom. Coral roses, on the other hand, express one thing with their passionate colour: desire.

The message behind lilac roses is that the sender has fallen in love at first sight and is enchanted.

Peach roses indicate gratitude and appreciation, while orange roses speak of enthusiasm and desire. Pure white roses say: “I miss you” and “You're heavenly”. They symbolise innocence and truth.

Apart from Valentine’s Day, roses also have other meanings. The phrase ‘sub rosa’ or under-the-rose means to keep a secret. It has been derived from an ancient Roman practice where a wild rose would be placed on the door of a room where confidential matters were discussed.

In medieval times, Christians identified the five petals of a rose with the five wounds of Christ. At a later stage, roses came to be associated with the Virgin Mary and still later, red roses became a symbol of the blood of Christian martyrs.

People of the Bulgarian Rose Valley have processed roses into rose oil for over 300 years
Photo: Enio Bonchev

The reason why the rose is England’s national flower has to do with the Wars of the Roses. Henry VII introduced the Tudor rose, combining a white rose, which represented the House of York, and a red rose, which represented the House of Lancaster, as a symbol of unity after the English civil wars of the 15th century.

The rose has been the symbol of England rugby, and of the Rugby Football Union, since 1871.
After World War II a red rose became the symbol of social democracy for Finnish, Brazilian, French, Spanish, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, British, Irish, Portuguese, Dutch, Bulgarian and other European labour, socialist or social democratic parties.

The White Rose was a World War II non-violent resistance group in Germany.

Valentine’s Day and roses have long been synonymous

There are more than 100 species of roses. They fall in the genus Rosa in the family Rosaceae. The name comes from the Latin word ‘rosa’, borrowed from the Greek word ‘rhodon’, which is related to the Aeolic ‘wrodon’, the old Persian ‘wrd’ and Armenian ‘vard’.

Roses have been cultivated from at least 500 BC in Mediterranean countries, Persia, and China.
In 1840 a rose collection consisting of more than 1 000 different cultivars, varieties and species became a reality when a rosarium was planted by Loddiges nursery for Abney Park Cemetery, an early Victorian garden cemetery and arboretum in England.

In the early 19th century the Empress Josephine of France patronized the development of rose breeding at her gardens at Malmaison.

A red rose – the symbol of love
Photo: Addorganicgardening

Rose water, which is used for cosmetics, cooking, medicine and in religious practices, was first made in ancient Persia and then spread through Arabia and India.

Rose perfume is made from rose oil, a mixture of volatile essential oils you get from steam distilling the crushed petals of roses.

Rose hip seed oil is used in make-up and skin products, and rose hips are made into marmalade and jam, or are brewed for a tea with high vitamin C content. They are also pressed and filtered to make rose hip syrup.

Rose fruits have notable levels of vitamins and have been used as a food supplement. Many roses have been used in herbal and folk medicines. For example, Rosa chinensis has long been used in Chinese traditional medicine. Many rose species have been used for stomach problems, and are being investigated for controlling cancer growth.


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