What is it about February that has us breaking out in Shakespeare whenever the mood strikes us? A simple inquiry about our Rose Tomatoes and suddenly we’re answering in iambic pentameter …
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet?
It must be that Valentine’s Day is around the corner (or we’re a little nutso), and we couldn’t help but wonder: why are roses the symbol of Valentine’s Day, and what is their history? So we dug a little deeper, and this is what we discovered:
History of the Rose
Red roses (more so than yellow or pink roses) are the traditional symbol for love and romance. The popularity of these flowers began when Europeans imported roses from China in the early 1800’s. Consequently, rose breeding started gaining some momentum, but it took Napoleon’s wife’s passion for roses to make them fashionable. Empress Josephine began the first largest recorded rose garden at her estate. Visitors were drawn to Josephine’s garden of vibrant red colors, and beautifully scented flowers that could flower all year round in temperate weather. Immediately following, gardeners began feverishly breeding roses and they became a cult favorite across Europe and the United States.
But the history of roses didn’t begin in Europe or China. Roses also have roots in Greek Mythology. We associate the rose with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, but it was Chloris, the goddess of flowers who created the rose. The story starts with Chloris cleaning in the forest, as she stumbles upon a beautiful nymph who was laying lifeless. Devastated, she called upon Aphrodite and Dionysus to help right the wrong of the dead nymph. After giving the color of wine, nectar and a sweet scent, Zephyr, the West Wind blew away the clouds for Apollo the sun god to shine on the new flower to bloom. This flower became the rose.
Roses also have places in Hindu legends, as well as Egyptian and the Roman Empire history. From stories of grooms offering their brides a red rose, to rose petals being used as confetti at elaborate parties and decadently spread on tables along with the feast to impress guests – red roses have been read, admired in paintings, and told in stories for centuries. While red roses didn’t truly get become a romantic symbol until the last 200 years, their meaning might be slowly evolving. In the last 50 years, some view the rose as a symbol for “peace” over “love.”
*Friends, did you learn something new about the rose? How are your roses doing this year? Any plans to give or receive them for Valentine’s Day?
Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.