It’s February and in honor of Valentine’s day, ROSES are featured this month. All across the country florists and retailers are gearing up to sell, prep and deliver a LOT of roses on February 14th. Over 224 million roses, over 2 billion dollars in revenue. Wow!
But have roses, and rose products, always been so popular? Looking back in history, apparently the answer is a resounding YES. According to fossil evidence, the existence of the rose goes back around 35 million years, originating in the northern hemisphere. Ancient Greeks and Romans considered the rose to be divine, and red roses were the favorite flower of the goddess of love, Venus/Aphrodite. As far back as 810 BC the province of Faristan (in Persia) had to give the head of state 30,000 bottles of rose water. Rose petals have been discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs, and Cleopatra used rose petals lavishly in her living quarters and during public appearances, reportedly so that she would be remembered as the goddess who smelled like roses.
Here are a few fun facts and legends about the rose and its use and impact throughout history.
- An old Roman custom of hanging a rose over the dinner table is to indicate that what is spoken there stays there, hence “a rose will keep your secrets.” The originating myth is that Cupid bribed the God of Silence with the gift of a rose to keep him from revealing the amorous habits of Cupid’s mother, Venus.
- Roses are edible and a great source of vitamin C.
- In 1986 the rose became the floral emblem of the United States, and it’s also the official state flower in 4 states: Georgia, Iowa, New York, and North Dakota.
- Hildesheim, Germany is home to a large rose bush that has been growing on the wall of the Cathedral of Hildesheim for over 1,000 years. It is the oldest known living rose bush.
- Traditional symbols of roses are also influenced by color:
- Red: Love
- Pink: Admiration, grace
- Yellow: Joyful, cheerful
- White: Pure, innocent
- Orange: Energetic, fascination
- Peach: Modesty
- According to the Guinness Book of World Records, roses are the oldest species of plant to be grown as decoration.
There’s so much more, I’ve only scratched the surface! I’ve always loved roses, and learning some of its history, meaning, and uses just makes them that much more interesting. I hope I’ve piqued your interest, too!