Associating certain flowers with meaning is an age-old custom. In fact, the meaning of flowers and their colors was quite a delicate matter in Victorian courtship rituals. For example, yellow roses were associated with jealousy. Victorians even created a discipline of associating flowers with meaning known as "Floriography." While meanings have changed over time, associations still prevail.
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Historically, pink is the oldest rose; "rose" actually means "pink" in many languages. Pink roses symbolize gratitude and can be given as a gesture of admiration and thankfulness. Pink roses are also symbolic of happiness, which is why people use them for celebrations and joyful occasions, such as graduation or birthdays. In addition, pink roses are associated with grace and elegance. Depending on the recipient, you could give a bright pink rose to someone with a more outgoing personality, whereas a lighter pink rose would be best suited for someone more calm and subdued.
White roses, on the other hand, hold several meanings. While there is no one meaning to the white rose, the most enduring is purity and innocence. Typically, you would give a white rose arrangement with great loving intention. Alternative meanings are silence or secrecy. Interestingly, white roses can signify a new beginning or an end. In early traditions, the white rose meant love, but the red rose later supplanted the white rose for love. Wedding floral arrangements typically use a white rose bouquet to signify virtue. White roses are also appropriate for an anniversary gift or to represent remembrance and loss.
The combination of pink and white roses signifies everlasting love.
History of Roses
While the majority of rose species originate from Asia, there are native North American species. In fact the oldest rose fossil, found in Colorado, dates back 35 million years. According to the University of Illinois Extension, "Garden cultivation of roses began some 5,000 years ago, probably in China." Cultivated roses were not introduced to Europe until the late 18th century, and the majority of modern-day roses descend from this line.
Roses in Legend
In Greek mythology, the rose was sacred to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. In Egyptian mythology, roses were sacred to the goddess Isis, and they were often used in offerings.
Teleflora says that in one legend, all roses were originally white. A nightingale fell in love with a rose, and inspired, it sang a long, sweet song. The bird became so impassioned, that he pressed himself against the flower. A thorn pierced the nightingale's heart, turning the rose red.
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