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~I am the Rose of Sharon, and the Lily of the Valley
As the lily among the thorns, so is My love among the daughters!
~Song of Solomon~ 2: 1-2
Roses, known as the ~Queen of Flowers,~ grew in Asia 5,000 years ago. Fossils in Montana & Oregon prove that it has been a wildflower in America, for more than 35 million years. There are more than 30,000 varieties with a complicated family tree.
The first historical reference of the rose is by the Sumerians from ancient Mesopotamia, (Iraq]. King Sargon I, of Akkadia ~2684-2630 B.C.~ brought vines, figs & rose trees from a military expedition beyond the River Tigris.
According to Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend (1972), "Originally from Persia, the rose is said to have been brought to the West by Alexander. To the Arabs the rose was a masculine flower. It was anciently a symbol of joy, later of secrecy and silence, but is now usually associated with love."
Herodotus claims that the mythical King Midas of Phrygia, (Asia Minor, 3000 B.C.), introduced the rose to Greece. ~Iliad~ by Homer (9th century B.C.), tells us that the shield of Achilles was decorated with roses.
Confucius (551-479 B.C.), wrote that the Emperor of China had over 600 books about Roses. The Chinese (5th century B.C.), extracted oil of roses from plants grown in the Emperor's garden which could only be used by nobles and dignitaries. A commoner found in possession of this oil was put to death.
Wall paintings and objects depicting roses were found in Egyptian tombs (5th century B.C.). Cleopatra had a passion for roses. To seduce Mark Antony, she had the palace floors carperted with rose petals and her chamber filled with two feet deep with red rose petals and fountains filled with rose water.
King Childebert I, had a rose garden planted for his Queen in Paris. Charlemagne ordered the cultivation of roses in the castles where he held assemblies. Leo IX, elected Pope in 1084 (11th century), began the ceremony of the ~Golden Rose.~ A rose made from gold was sent to a favored monarch as a token of papal esteem. Those roses are now considered masterpieces of art.
Types of Roses
It takes from 45 to 60 days to produce a rose in the greenhouse, depending on variety, time of year, and light conditions. 900 acres of greenhouse area is dedicated to the production of fresh roses in the U.S. Almost 60% of the roses grown in the U.S. are produced in California.
Roses are divided into two groups, ~old roses,~ or those cultivated in Europe before 1800 and ~modern roses,~ which were cultivated in England and France around the 19th century.
There are climbers and ramblers, old and modern shrub roses, bush roses, floribundas, which have clusters of flowers, single and double blooms, tea roses, tough thorny rugosa roses, standard and weeping standard roses, miniature and patio roses. A rose for every situation and purpose can be found.
An English rose breeder, David Austin, made his mark on the world by creating roses which have the long flowering qualities of modern roses with the fragrance of the old roses of the past.
Rose Legends, Myths & FolkLore
In ancient Hindu legend, Gods, Vishnu, protector of the world, and Brahma, creator of the world, argued as to which was the most beautiful flower. Vishnu praised the rose, while Brahma, who had not seen a rose sided with the lotus. When Brahma saw the rose he agreed at once that the rose was supreme and rewarded Vishnu's devotion by creating for him, his wife, the Goddess Lakshmi from 108 large and 1,008 small rose petals.
The Christmas Rose
In Kashmir, the Mogul emperors cultivated beautiful rose gardens. Roses were strewn in the river to welcome them on their return home.
In Persia, Nebuchadnezzar adorned his palace with roses. They were grown for their perfume oil. The petals were used to fill the King's mattress. An Arab story tells that the rose was born from Prophet Mohammed's sweat.
In 11th century Sufi poetry, the rose became a symbol of life, its beauty represents perfection, and the thorns, the difficulties, that one had to overcome to reach that perfection.
According to the 20th century, Islamic Moroccoan folklore, rosewater was be mixed with saffron and used for writing special charms in the early hours of the first Sunday of the month.
Rose amulets, were worn as protection against the evil eye. Crushed roses or rose hips were applied to tombstones, especially those of women. The use of roses as part of burial rituals can be found throughout the former Roman Empire, including Wales where white roses are placed on grave's of young children as a sign of their innocence.
The early Greeks and later, the Romans linked the rose to love, beauty, purity and passion. The rose was created by Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, according to the ancient Greeks. White roses sprung from the sea foam which surrounded her as she rose out of the sea.
The Greek goddess Chloris turned a beautiful dead nymph into a flower; Aphrodite added beauty; the three graces added brilliance, joy, and charm. Dionysious donated fragrant nectar, while Zephyrus the west wind blew away the clouds so Apollo could shower the rose in sun. The flower was then given to Eros, the deity of love, and named the ~Queen of Flowers~ .... the first rose.
It was written that Cybele in taking revenge on Venus created the rose to rival her beauty. Another legend tells us that the rose was born from a smile of Cupid. Yet according to another it fell from the hair of Aurora as she combed it.
To the early Christians, rose was symbol of paganism, orgy, and lust. They scorned it because of its connection with their persercutors, the Romans, but eventually they accepted it.
An ancient story tells us that the roses were thornless in the Garden of Eden, but after Adam & Eve were expelled, thorns appeared.
Another Christian legend says that when the blood of the crucified Jesus dripped onto the moss at the foot of the cross, moss roses were created.
Medieval legend tells us that the first roses appeared in Bethlehem as the result of the prayers of a ~Fayre Mayden~ who had been falsely accused and sentenced to death by burning.
Virgin Mary, is known as ~The Mystical Rose~ St. Dorothy (4th century), is said to have been delivered roses in her prison cell from the garden of paradise by an angel. She is shown carryng a basket of roses of St. Casilda. It is also attributed to St. Elizabeth of Portugal, and St. Rose of Viterbo, who carry roses in either their hands or caps; St. Therese of Lisieux, who scatters red roses; St. Rosalie, St. Angelus, St. Rose of Lima, & St. Victoria, who wear crowns of roses. Only after the Christians adopted the rose as a symbol of the Virgin Mary, that it became a symbol of ~motherhood and purity.~
The red rose was used to symbolize the blood and agony of the crucifixion of Jesus; the five petals, representing his five wounds.
According to legend, the rose came to be associated with Christmas on the night that Christ was born. A little shepherdess wept while she looking after sheep. Her tears soaked the ground, as had no gift to offer Baby Jesus. An angel suddenly appeared and touched the tear-softened earth, and the ground sprang with beautiful roses. The girl immediately made a bouquet of these Christmas roses and carried them to Christ's manger. As soon as He laid eyes on them, the Holy Child extended His tiny hands in the direction of the flowers.
In 1531, in a vision, Lady of Guadalupe, ~Mother Mary~ showed Juan Diego red roses blooming in December as a
sign that the native Cuautitlans in New Spain were important and a church should be built for them to worship. Another legend tells us that when Juan Diego unfolded his white cloth, different varieties of rosas de Castilla....scattered on the ground.
As the Spanish began to colonize the Americas in the 16th century, they brought with them many of the rose popular to Spanish royalty and the monks. The monks kept the culture of the rose from fading into history, since the it was considered a pagan symbol following the end of the Roman influence in Europe.
In one medieval myth, Emperor Ludwig of Germany is protected by a rose while sleeping overnight in the woods. After hanging his crucifix onto a thorn bush, he awoke to discover the bramble has changed to a rose and built a chapel in its honor.
Roses were grown at Ely Place during the reign of Elizabeth I. Ely Place was the London residence of the Bishops of Ely; Queen Elizabeth let the gatehouse to Sir Christopher Hatton for the rent not of a peppercorn but a single red rose. ~From: Rose Gardens: Their History & Design, by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall~
In myths, it is associated with deception and trickery. In the tale of Merlin and Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, Arthur's wizard is entrapped in a tower created from a white rose while walking in the Breceliande forest.
An 18th century Swiss poet combined mythology and the birth of the rose. According to his version, Bacchus was chasing a beautiful young nymph through the woods when she suddenly was trapped by the spikes of a very thorny shrub. To show his gratitude, Bacchus, the god of wine and merriment, touched the shrub and ordered it to be covered with flowers to match the rosy blushes of the nymph.
Rose myths of Greece include Eros, the mischievous symbol of love and earthly desires. In one of the most famous love stories, Eros eventually weds Psyche. After the ceremony, Zeus' daughters, the hours (seasons) and the graces (charities), make everything ~glow with roses~ and scatter the blossoms about the land.
Till today, roses are similarly represented in Greek folklore. In the folktale of ~ The Monk,~ the hero prince leans over a sleeping princess to kiss her, after which he receives a pair of roses and subsequently uses their magical powers to escape his evil pursuers. Presumably, the love he has for the princess saves him from the evil wrongdoers, a direct correlation to the magic of roses from ancient Greek mythology.
Another story comes from Bulgaria about a young Moslem monk in Damascus, Syria. He loved a beautiful girl but broke an important rule. This made God angry and he punished the young monk by turning the girl into a rose. The sad
young monk took a journey to search for a land suitable for his rose. Finally, after a long search, he made his way to Bulgaria and found that his rose could blossom there. Due to this legend, Bulgaria became an important rose producing country and chose it as their national flower.
In Roman mythology, roses also represent pain, suffering and death. According to legend, many suitors lined up to marry a beautiful woman named Rodanthe. She had little interest in any of them and traveled to the Temple of Diana, seeking refuge. The persistent suitors followed her and broke down the Temple gates to get closer to her. Diana, becoming infuriated at the destruction of her Temple, turned the suitors into thorns and Rhodanthe into a beautiful rose.
The Apothecary's Rose
The first roses came to Rome from Greece. Romans used roses as decorations during festivals. Wearing rose garlands was thought to ward off the effect of too much wine. It is recorded that some diners, intoxicated, were buried and suffocated in rose petals.
During feasts in Athens, young people of both sexes, crowned with roses, danced naked in the shadow of the temple of Hymen to symbolize the innocence of the Golden Age. During the public games all the streets in Rome were strewn with rose petals.
The Romans believed that by decorating their tombs with roses they would appease the Manes (spirits of the dead); and the rich specified in their wills that entire rose gardens should be maintained to provide flowers for their graves.
Roses later became synonymous with the worst excesses of the Roman Empire - peasants had to grow roses instead of food crops to satisfy the demands of their rulers. The emperors filled their swimming baths and fountains with rose-water and sat on carpets of rose petals for their feasts and orgies. Heliogabalus used to enjoy showering his guests with rose petals which tumbled down from the ceiling during the festivities.
Tertullian (202 A.D.), wrote an entire volume against the rose. Clement of Alexandra forbade Christians to adorn themselves with roses. It seems that early Christians did not heed to these warnings about roses and continued to cultivate them, even taking them to Church for various ceremonies. Slowly the Church absorbed some aspects of paganism by changing them into Christian symbols. In Catholic litanies, the Virgin Mary is called ~Rosa Mystica~ and in many hymns she is invoked as the ~rose without thorns~
St Francis of Assisi is said to have flung himself into the centre of a rose bush to help him ~overcome temptation~ and ever afterwards the bush was devoid of thorns.
Early Saxons believed that when a child died, by plucking a rose one could see the image of death. To them, the rose also symbolized rebirth and resurrection.
There are also several legends regarding the rose and color.
In Roman times, it was the flower of Venus. Romans believed white roses grew where tears of Venus fell, as she mourned the loss of her beloved Adonis. Her son Cupid, stung by a bee, shot arrows in the rose garden. The sting of the arrows became thorns. Venus pricked her foot on a thorn, and the droplets of blood dyed the roses red.
One version holds that the tears of Venus mingled with Adonis' blood on the ground. From there a flower sprung up. Venus presented the rose to her son Cupid, who, in turn, gave it to Harpocrates, the god of silence, to induce him to conceal the weaknesses of the gods. The rose became the emblem of silence rather than of wine, love and beauty.
Another version by Ausonius, explains that the red rose originated when Venus, angered with Cupid, beat him with a branch until blood spurted from his body.
According to yet another legend, the Romans thought that Venus blushed when Jupiter saw her bathing and the white rose turned red in her reflection. Red and white roses symbolize the dual nature of Venus: the red, her dark side; the white, her pure side.
According to Zoroaster, the rose was free from thorns until the entrance into the world of Ahrimannes - the spirit of evil.
There is also a legend about yellow roses and the Prophet Mohammed. Involved in a war around 612 A.D., the Prophet had a premonition that his wife, Aisah, was having an affair. In his sleep the Angel Gabriel came to him and the Prophet asked how he could be sure if his wife was unfaithful or not. He was told that when he returned home he should ask Aisah to drop something into the pool. If that object changed colour it would prove her guilt.
When he arrived home shortly after, he was met by Aisah carrying a bouquet of white roses, which he told her to throw into the pool. When they floated to the surface- they had turned saffron yellow.
A Christian legend says that a bush of red roses was turned white, when the Virgin Mary put her mantle to dry on it.
Another German legend has the red rose becoming white when washed by the tears of Mary Magdalene. Further credence to this legend is given by the fact that the old roses usually faded around July 20th, St. Mary Magdalene's day.
A Jewish folktale tells us that the maiden, Zillah, falsely accused by Hamuel because she rebuffed his romantic advances is punished for her alleged crime by burning at the stake. But the fire did not kill Zillah and white roses grew in its ashes, symbolizing innocence and purity. The fire however killed Hamuel and in his ashes, red roses grew, symbolizing treachery and dishonesty. ~Sir John Mandeville~
In Scotland a white rose blooming in the fall foretold an early marriage.
In England, great care is taken to prune red roses; for if the petals fall from a red rose as it is being cut, bad luck will follow.
In Italy, fully open roses are not given as a gift because death will befall a relative of the recipient.
The Apothecary's Rose Rosa gallica officinalis, is one of the most popular of all ancient roses.
In the Renaissance art of the 15th and 16th centuries, it was one of the two most often painted roses Rosa alba being the other. Its red color represented the blood of Christian martyrs. The petals of this rose were dried and rolled into beads; then strung into what became the rosary and from which the rosary received its name.
Believed to have come from ancient Persia, not much is known about the rose prior to the 7th century. Persian legends maintain that the rose's red coloration came about because a nightingale enamored by the white rose, grasped it so tightly that the thorns pierced its breast and its blood turned the white rose, red. Hence, the rose was called ~The Red Damask.~
The rose came to Europe, in the 12th or 13th century via noble knights returning from the Crusades. The English story says that the rose was returned to King Louis VII after the 2nd Crusade in Syria. England, in those days, included Normandy, Brittany and Aquitaine, and the rose made its way to King Henry II. Henry married Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, to solidify his kingdom but he had a mistress named Jane Clifford, later renamed ~The Fair Rosamond.~ Queen Eleanor got wind of this affair, and poisoned Jane in 1176. She disguised the potion with the oil of the Apothecary's Rose and R. alba. She is suspected to have a hand in the inscription that was placed on Rosamund's tomb.
~Here rose the graced, not rose the chaste, reposes,
The scent that rises is not the scent of roses~
Rosamund, however lived on. After her death, so the legend goes, a new rose sprouted outside the castle and was named after her Rosa mundi Rosa gallica versicolor.
According to the French story the Apothecary's Rose is believed to have been returned to the Castle of Provins, a city close to Paris, by Thibault IV in 1250 upon his return from the Seventh Crusade. Provins became the European capital for the Apothecary's Rose and it was renamed ~The Rose of Provins.~
Monasteries were a refuge for roses in the Dark Ages. It was a must that at least one monk was to be well versed in botany and familiar with medicinal and healing virtues of plants and by the end of the 13th century it was also grown for its perfume and dried for potpourri. By the 16th century, dried petals from the Apothecary's Rose were steeped in wine as a cure for hangovers although this idea was not new; coming from the Early Romans who used roses for the same purpose almost 1200 years before. By the time of Napoleon in the 19th century, there were more apothecaries on the main street of Provins than any other type of shop. Apothecary's Rose was planted outside the entrance of each shop and it became a symbol of the druggists.
War of Roses
Fighting over who would be king of England continued until, as legend has it, the two sides found a rose in the English countryside which bore both red blooms and white blooms. During the War of the Roses the Family of York chose the white ~York and Lancaster~ Rosa alba and the Family of Lancaster chose the dark pink/red Rosa officinalis ~Apothecary's Rose~as their emblems.
They where united as a symbol of royalty in Britain by Henry Tudor, who conquered Richard III and ensured the peace with his marriage to Elizabeth of York. The Tudor Rose, a graphic design created by King Henry VII in 1485, is a red rose laid atop a white - symbolizing the unification of the Houses of York and Lancaster and thus ending the War of Roses. The end of the war brought about the establishment of the House of Tudor on the English Throne. The feud is kept alive today on the cricket fields of England. When the two counties compete, both teams wear their respective rose badges on their hats.
The first Earl of Lancaster, Edmund Crouchback (1245-96), in a second marriage, to the daughter of the Count of Artois, adopted as his wife's emblem the ~Rose of Provins.~ Provins became the centre of the rose industry over the next 600 years. When he returned to England in 1277, he took the Gallica rose with him.
Rosa alba maxima has been associated it with the 18th-century attempts of James Francis Edward Stuart, the Old Pretender, and Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender, to assert their valid but doomed claims to the throne of Great Britain. This rose is called the ~Jacobite Rose~
Columbus discovered America because of a rose! It is written that on October 11, 1492, while in the Sargasso Sea, one of the crewmen picked a rose branch from the water. This sign of land renewed their hope for survival and gave them the courage to continue their journey.
No better symbol exists of the pain and suffering of the ~Trail of Tears~ started in 1838, than the Cherokee Rose. The mothers of the Cherokee grieved so much that the chiefs prayed for a sign to lift the mother's spirits and give them strength to care for their children. From that day forward, a beautiful rose, grew wherever a mother's tear fell to the ground. The rose is white, for the mother's tears. It has a gold center, for the gold taken from the Cherokee lands, and seven leaves on each stem that represent the seven Cherokee clans that made the journey. To this day, the Cherokee Rose prospers along the route of the ~Trail of Tears.~ The Cherokee Rose is now the official flower of the State of Georgia.
Another tale of roses and bloodshed in early America, is about the ~Grant Rose.~ Grant was a settler during the Seminole uprising in Florida in 1835. He was killed by the Indians who then went to his home and found his wife and child. The pair tried to escape but became caught up in some brambles and were killed by the Seminoles. Legend has it that from the blood-stained ground grew the ~Grant Rose~ with a unique blood red colour and an unpleasant smell.
Wild roses greeted the Pilgrims at their Plymouth Rock landing.
The rose is the official National Floral Emblem of the United States. This legislation was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on November 20, 1986.
It is also the state flower of Georgia, Iowa, New York, North Dakota and the District of Columbia.
The emblem of Washington D. C. is the ~American Beauty rose.~
The month of June has been set aside as National Rose Month since 1969 in the US.
The fourth week in June has been designated by the Governor of Indiana as ~A Rose for Friendship Week~ due to the efforts of J. B. Hoy, a semi-retired businessman.
The rose is the only flower to which a garden has been totally devoted on the grounds of the United Nations, on the White House grounds in Washington, D.C., and in thousands of public parks throughout the world.
It is the flower emblem of England and is worn on St George's Day.
In heraldry the rose is used as the mark of cadency for a seventh son.
It is said that the Mafia sends a black rose to the person they plan to ~hit.~
In 1994, over 1,200,000,000 roses were purchased by U.S. flower buyers that is about 4.67 roses per person.
Three separate nationally conducted public opinion polls, dating from 1975 to 1986, found the rose to be the number one choice of over 85 percent of those individuals surveyed.
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Copyright © Pinkie D'Cruz 2000Sunday, August 06, 2000