For some reason there seems to be a lot of red roses in the shops at the moment. Something to do with Valentine’s Day, I believe.
So why are red roses associated with love and romance? It seems that the Romans might have started it by associating roses with Venus (the Roman version of Aphrodite), the goddess of love. It is said that as she was searching for her lover, Adonis, she pricked her foot on a rose which was then stained red with her blood. An ancient Persian variation is that of a nightingale who was so besotted with a white rose that it flew down to it; embracing it tightly, the thorns pierced the bird’s heart. The blood shed in love caused to rose to grow red flowers thereafter.
Across time and cultures, roses are highly prized for their beauty and their scent. Red roses in particular seem to be associated with the shedding of blood, usually for romantic reasons. Therefore, the link to matters of the heart is an obvious one.
Rose petals have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs as funeral offerings. Chivalric knights wore them as symbols of gentleness alongside valour. In England roses were the emblems of rival royal houses the Yorks and the Lancastrians, before they were combined into the red and white of the Tudor rose. Rose petals are used as confetti at weddings. And every February red roses fill our shops at inflated prices!