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The Symbolism of Roses and their Meanings

The rose symbolizes different things to different cultures, people and, even, countries.

Here are some of the things that roses are used for as symbols:
  • A bouquet of red roses is often used to show love, and used as a Valentine's Day gift in many countries.
  • According to some Biblical legends, the original rose growing in the Garden of Eden was white, but turned red as it blushed with shame upon Adam and Eve's fall from grace.
  • A red rose is frequently a symbol of socialism or social democracy.
  • A single rose in full bloom means "I love you" or "I still love you."
  • A thornless rose signifies love at first sight.
  • If a maiden had more than one lover, it is believed in one mythology, she should take rose leaves and write the names of her lovers upon them before casting them into the wind. The last leaf to reach the ground would bear the name of the lover whom she should marry.
  • In alchemy, a rose with seven petals symbolizes inclusion, universal understanding and order.
  • In Christian lore, a rose bush was said to have grown at the site of Christ's death. His blood serving is often associated with a red rose, and combined with its thorns it thus for many Christians symbolizes His ultimate sacrifice.
  • In Christian symbolism the rose is appropriated to the Virgin Mary, who also has the title of "The Mystical Rose". It is also the attribute of St. Dorothea, who carries roses in a basket; of St. Casilda, St. Elizabeth of Portugal, and St. Rose of Viterbo, who carry roses in either their hands or caps; of St. Therese of Lisieux, who scatters red roses; and of St. Rosalie, St. Angelus, St. Rose of Lima, and St. Victoria, who wear crowns of roses.
  • In Freemasonry, three roses symbolize a guiding principle, and the three roses in Freemason symbology respectively means Love, Life, and Light.
  • In Greek mythology, Aphrodite (the goddess of love) is often seen adorned with roses on her head, feet and/or neck. According to lore, a rose bush grew in the pool of blood spilled from Aphrodite's slain lover (Adonis), so the symbolism here is usually interpreted to mean that the rose (for her) is a symbol of an immortal/eternal love, even after death.
  • In Islam, the rose signifies the blood of Mohammed and his two sons.
  • In Renaissance art, a rose with eight petals is a message of rebirth and renewal.
  • In Rome it was often customary to bless roses on "Rose Sunday".
  • In Scotland, if a white rose bloomed in autumn it was a token of an early marriage.
  • In some pagan mythologies, no undead or ghostly creatures (particularly vampires) may cross the path of a wild rose. It was thought that to place a wild rose on a coffin of a recently deceased person would prevent them from rising again.
  • In the Tarot (cards), the rose is a symbol of balance, and its beauty expresses promise, new beginnings, and hope. Contrasted with this beauty, its thorns represent defense, physicality, loss, and thoughtlessness. The rose is furthermore seen in the major arcana as Magician, Strength, Death and Fool cards (all of which, hold strong meanings of balance and equilibrium).
  • It is believed that if a rose bush were pruned on St. John's Eve, it would be guaranteed to bloom in the autumn.
  • It is of course a symbol of love. Fresh roses in a bouquet express deep gratitude, while a single rose says 'I still love you.' A bouquet of rosebuds - representing innocent love - says 'You are forever young and beautiful', while a thornless rose means 'love at first sight.'
  • On St George's Day in Catalonia people offer dark red roses as gifts, especially between lovers, and the red rose is widely accepted as an unofficial symbol of Catalonia.
  • Rose leaves thrown into a burning flame are said to give good luck.
  • Roses were used in very early times as a very potent ingredient in love philters.
  • Since the earliest times, the rose has been an emblem of silence:
    • In Greek Mythology, Eros presents a rose to the god of silence.
    • In a Celtic folk legend, a wandering, screaming spirit was silenced by presenting the spirit with a wild rose every new moon.
  • The heraldic rose is a common charge in heraldry.
  • The month of June is National Rose Month.
  • The red rose is symbolic of the blood of Christ and a symbol of martyrdom, charity, the passion and resurrection.
  • The red rose, it is believed by some religions, cannot grow over a grave.
  • The red rose of Lancaster, and the white rose of York, from the Wars of the Roses period in England.
  • The Republic of Georgia's non-violent bid for freedom during its Rose Revolution;
  • The rosebud symbolizes beauty, youth and a heart innocent of love.
  • The Rose-Cross is a symbol for the Rosicrucian;
  • The rose in The Dark Tower has symbolic meaning in that series of Stephen King novels
  • The rose is also a symbol of secrets or tacit understanding. The term sub rosa literally means "under the rose" and comes from the Roman practice of hanging roses above meeting tables, or on the door where a secret discussion was being held. It was understood that anything said in this room, beneath the hanging roses, or behind the door with a rose, was secret.
  • The rose is one of the state and national symbols in Bulgaria because of the leading traditions in cultivation of Roses for production of Rose oil (especially in the so called Rose Valley near the town of Kazanlak).
  • The rose is the national flower of England, and the symbol of England Rugby, and of the Rugby Football Union.
  • The rose is the official flower of Portland, Oregon, and it counts "City of Roses" among its nicknames. They also hold an annual Rose Festival.
  • The rose is the official National Floral Emblem of the United States, and the state flower of four US states (Georgia, Iowa, New York, and North Dakota), as well as of the District of Columbia.
  • The rose is the provincial flower of Alberta, Canada, and of Islamabad (Pakistan).
  • The rose was sacred in ancient Greece and Rome as it represented Aphrodite (or Venus to the Romans) and represented beauty and love.
  • The tea rose means "I'll remember (you) always."
  • The Virolai, a hymn to the Virgin of Montserrat begins with the words: "Rosa d'abril, Morena de la serra..." (April rose, tanned lady of the mountain chain...). Therefore this virgin is sometimes known as "Rosa d'abril".
  • The white rose is linked to the Virgin Mary (the "rose without thorns") and was also a medieval symbol of virginity.
  • White roses have an association with death but also purity and innocence.
[Main source: Wikipedia]

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