This month, we’re focusing on the origin and meaning behind the rose—birthday flower of June celebrants.
The rose is probably the flower most associated with romance, especially red roses. They’re beautiful, fragrant and prickly if you’re not careful. Their popularity makes them a staple in all flowers shops and florists in Singapore. Justifiably so, because their numerous associations and symbolism make them suitable for all sorts of flower arrangements, from Grand Openings to wreaths in Singapore and, of course, as Valentine’s Day Flowers.
Background and Etymology
Rose comes from the Latin word rosa. It became adapted as a name for a person who resides at a place where wild roses grew or even as a nickname for a man with a ‘rosy’ complexion.
Roses were first cultivated more than 5,000 years ago in Asia. These were then brought to ancient Mesopotamia by Sargon I, King of the Akkadians after a military exploration. Eventually, Greeks introduced roses to Romans.
Over the years, the exquisite rose became entrenched in culture and tradition in various countries. In ancient Rome, people throw rose petals on streets during Roman public games. They were also used as ornaments. Egyptians painted roses on walls and tombs as far back as fifth century B.C. until Cleopatra’s era.
Meanings and Symbolisms
Different colours and varieties of roses hold different meanings and associations. The main six hues of roses are red, yellow, lavender, pink, white and orange.
Red roses are associated with love and romance, making them great flowers for Valentine’s Day bouquets or anniversary gifts. Yellow roses refer to friendship, joy and recovery. They’re perfect for Get Well Soon bouquets, graduation bouquet or as birthday flowers. Lavender roses represent enchantment, majesty as well as love at first sight. So this could be a great choice for courtship or to give to someone you admire.
Pink roses symbolize love, gratitude and appreciation. They can be great for Mother’s Day, as a Thank You bouquet or just as a nice gesture of appreciation towards a loved one. Meanwhile, white roses signify purity, innocence, sympathy and spirituality. They’re perfect for baby showers, new mothers, baby hampers or as a sign of respect to elders. Finally, orange roses point to desire, enthusiasm and passion. Any festive occasion can benefit from orange roses, even Halloween.
Roses are also often referenced in literature. For example, a well-known line in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1600) is “a rose by any other name shall smell as sweet.” This has been interpreted to mean that the thing itself is more important that what it’s called. Another famous literary reference to roses comes from Gertrude Stein’s poem Sacred Emily (1922) which states, “A rose is a rose is a rose.” It has been interpreted to mean that “things are what they are.”
In both cases, the rose is used as an example of an ideal and this is why the value of roses will always endure.
Beyond the beauty of roses, they also have practical uses. In fact, all roses are edible. This means that you can use them to add flavour to your cereals, juices, smoothies or you can make a rose-flavoured jam.
As for their medicinal properties, several species of roses have been used to treat a variety of ailments. Rosehips from rose species like Rosa Rugosa, Rosa Canina and Rosa Moyes are rich in vitamin C, so in ancient times they were used to cure scurvy. Meanwhile, Rosa Mosqueta oil, extracted from the rose seeds, is said to facilitate cellular regeneration and can be used to treat burns, scars and wrinkles. Some people also use rose extracts to treat urinary tract infections and chronic diarrhoea.
Rose essences have been incorporated in various fragrances as scents as well as cosmetic products. In particular, rose water—a diluted version of the rose essence—is a popular ingredient in beauty products for their ability to prevent winkles. So you can actually harness the beauty of roses to make yourself even more beautiful. Now isn’t that enchanting?