Hidden Meanings Behind Rose Colors
by Gregg Pennington
Do you see the world through rose-colored glasses? Traditionally this saying was used to describe someone who only sees pleasant things around them, blissfully ignorant of any problems. Roses actually come in a variety of colors, so you could wear a set of yellow or blue rose-colored glasses and experience a completely different set of emotions than with the traditional red or pink lenses.
Throughout history, roses have been given on every imaginable occasion, and this highly symbolic gesture has continued to evolve in meaning and tradition. Give the wrong color rose and you could be socially ostracized- well, most likely not, but it never hurts to be aware of the symbolic meaning of the roses you are going to send.
Many of our ideas about the symbolic meaning behind plants and flower colors come from Victorian times, when people did not feel free to verbally express certain feelings. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, first in Europe and then later in the Americas, language-of-flowers dictionaries flourished, giving proper Victorian people a more societally acceptable way to communicate deep, passionate feelings.
Red, at least on St. Valentines Day, is the most commonly given color of roses, and it usually symbolizes romantic love. It can also symbolize courage and passion, but giving red roses to someone not aware of this could lead to an uncomfortable misunderstanding. Be aware of the possible perceptions of your intended recipient.
While all red roses symbolize desire, subtle variations in color can have different symbolic meaning. Amaranth red roses are a symbol of long standing desire, and cardinal red means sublime desire. Carmine means false desire, and fiery red can represent flames of passion. A deep red rose can indicate bashful shame. The burgundy rose has always been symbolic of unconscious beauty.
Do you need a rose that sends a more platonic message of friendship and good will? Consider the yellow rose, messenger of joy, friendship, caring, sympathy and delight. A yellow rose can also symbolize new beginnings, and can say, "Remember Me". In Victorian times, yellow roses were a symbol of jealousy. The ambiguous nature of the meaning of yellow roses lends magic to this color choice as a gift.
The white rose is commonly used in weddings, and in this context it signifies happy love. It can also mean spiritual love and purity, humility, charm, or innocence. It can also mean, "I am worthy of you," or be used as a gesture of platonic love.
Lavender roses symbolize love at first sight and enchantment, and can also be used to say "congratulations" to a graduate. Any shade of purple rose exudes a sense of majestic beauty.
A pink rose can hold many meanings. A darker pink rose can symbolize gratitude and appreciation, while a lighter shade of pink could show admiration, sympathy, or joy. Orange roses can signify enthusiasm or desire, or a feeling of warmth, whereas coral usually implies only desire.
The final two colors of roses are intertwined with the world of fantasy and mythology. While neither black nor blue roses occur naturally, both are attempted by florists through drying and dyeing. Black has traditionally been symbolic of death. Consequently, the black rose has been seen as a bad omen, but may also signal rejuvenation. The black rose is probably best used only as a gag gift, however, its meaning is likely to be misinterpreted and you may wind up scaring someone. The blue rose has been considered the "holy grail" of roses. While scientists are currently trying to genetically engineer this elusive flower, the only ones now commercially available are created using blue dye. The blue rose symbolizes fantasy, impossibility, and the search for miracles.
Sending roses has always been a way to express feelings that are difficult to convey in words. By carefully selecting the color, you add a touch of class to any gift and can convey a message steeped in emotion and history. Even though you are no longer blissfully ignorant about the meaning behind the colors of roses, at least you can find the rose-colored glasses that best fit you.
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