Symbolism and Meaning of Roses

Symbolism and Meaning of Roses

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Since ancient times roses have been grown for their fragrance, beauty, and healing properties. Roses, with their unique combination of thorny stems and fragrant blossoms, are often prized a symbol of achievement, completion and perfection: After having met the long stems with the thorns, you are rewarded with a flower of great beauty and mesmerizing fragrance. In other words, roses act as a metaphor for life: After overcoming difficulty, you will find inner harmony, union, and happiness.

Roses are heavily symbolic, often used in heraldry, badges, and coats of arms. The War of the Roses was carried out between the House of York (whose heraldic badge bore a white rose) and the House of Lancaster (red rose). The use of the rose as a symbol for silence or secrecy goes back to the ancient Egyptians or Greeks, where initiates into the “mysteries,” or pre-Christian religions, wore roses during ceremonies to indicate that they would keep inviolate any secrets that were passed on to them. In many countries it was customary to hang a rose over secret meetings or gatherings—hence the term sub-rosa (literally “under the rose”) to mean confidential.

Meaning of Rose Colors
The color of a rose is also associated with symbolic meanings. Each rose color, and even the rose blossom shape and age (i.e. rose buds as opposed to fully bloomed roses), conveys a different meaning or silent message from the giver to the recipient.

  • The red rose symbolizes romance, love, beauty, and courage. A red rosebud signifies beauty and purity. A thornless red rose means love at first sight.
  • Yellow roses symbolize friendship and joy, and new beginnings.
  • Orange roses symbolize fascination, desire, and sensuality.
  • Pink roses indicate appreciation and gratitude, especially dark pink roses. Light pink roses are usually indicative of admiration and/or sympathy.
  • The white rose stands for innocence and purity; also silence, secrecy, and reverence. White rosebuds are symbolic of girlhood. Brides often select white roses for their bridal bouquets.

Reprinted from

Harlow Gardens
5620 E. Pima Street
Tucson, AZ  85712