June 12 is Red Rose Day. I got to wondering why red roses are considered to be the classic, the ultimate symbol of love, and how such a connotation came to exist. The red rose is the one instantly associated with one common meaning, more so than any other flower. Red roses historically have been featured in many prominent works of art and cultural icons, including stories such as Beauty and the Beast. Red roses as they are typically portrayed today are the traditional symbol for love and romance. Though perhaps today the media, particularly advertising, has propagated this connotation, it was not always so. The red rose we are familiar with was brought to Europe from China in the early nineteenth century. However, the association between the red rose and love can be traced back centuries. In Greek and Roman mythology the red rose was viewed as a symbol for the goddess of love, Venus or Aphrodite depending on which mythology you follow. Because of their brilliant hues red roses were very expensive in the distant past, and only used for occasions of the utmost importance, such as the coronations of the royals or the weddings of the the very wealthy. Through repetition of this practice, the red rose came to be viewed as a symbol for love. As Europe entered a period of prosperity, the tradition of exchanging these flowers became more prominent and the red rose in particular carried its heritage of being a symbol of romantic love. Today on Red Rose Day, reflect upon the time-honored tradition and meaning of the red rose and send one to your love.
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