June 12 is Red Rose Day. It is an annual celebration of the universal symbol of love and romance – the humble, but beautiful red rose.
People have been using roses to communicate a variety of emotions and feelings since antiquity. The earliest evidence of rose cultivation dates back to about 5000 years ago in China. In ancient Greece and Rome, roses were a luxury item, available only to the rich and the royals, and a muse for painters and writers. Roses were used for medicinal purposes and for religious ceremonies.
The popularity of the rose declined with the spread of Christianity in Europe. It was seen as a symbol of depravity and decadence, vices that did not match up with the puritanical roots of the religion. By the 5th and 6th century CE, the rose had once again caught the fascination of artists, poets and writers in Europe and in the Middle East.
Symbol of War and Love
In the 15th century, factions battling in England over the throne adopted the rose as their symbol. The white rose was the symbol for York and the red rose for Lancaster. The resulting war was called the War of the Roses, which was eventually won by the supporters of the red rose.
Red roses have held a symbolic place in most cultures around the world. In many parts of the world, it is seen as a way to express love, romance, beauty, and respect. Red roses are some of the most popular flowers gifted during holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. It is also the symbol of social democratic parties in many countries.
In Spanish, French, and Portuguese, rose is the word for red.
How to Celebrate?
- Treat yourself or a loved one to a big bunch of red roses.
- Learn more about the history and botany of roses.
- If you have a garden or a yard, why not take this day to learn more about how to grow red roses?
- Spend some time reading about the War of the Roses.
Did You Know…
…that the phrase sub rosa, meaning secrecy, comes from the practice in ancient Rome of leaving a rose outside a door during a confidential meeting? The rose indicated that those in the room did not want to be disturbed.