Hundreds of millions of red roses are sold annually on Valentine's Day, a holiday dedicated to romance. Long-stemmed red roses have become almost intertwined with the holiday, but the meaning of a single, long-stemmed red rose extends far beyond a single day of the year. Popular in cut flower arrangements of all kinds, red roses have deep historical and cultural significance in many areas of the world.
Commonly, hybrid tea roses are used for bouquets, arrangements, corsages and other floral embellishments. Hybrid tea roses were first introduced in the 17th century when Chinese roses were cross-bred with roses from Europe. The long-stemmed, sweet-smelling roses that resulted are widely used around the world today. The word "rose" originates from the Greek use of the word, "red," which to them symbolized the blood of the god Adonis. Roses were also frequently used by the Romans for decoration.
Hybrid tea roses are among the most popular and commonly seen types of long-stemmed red roses, but there are many types of roses around the world. South American roses and Ecuadorean roses are highly sought-after for their large, beautiful blossoms. Bright red Kardinal, dark red Mr. Lincoln and deep red Madam Delbard roses are also used by florists when long-stemmed red roses are called for. All roses fall into one of four main groups: bush, climbing, ground cover and shrub, with most roses falling into the "bush" category.
Origins of Meanings
According to Jack Goody's "The Culture of Flowers," Eastern cultures first assigned meanings to roses. The tradition stems from times when written language was forbidden in the Ottoman culture. The trend of talking through flowers became popularized in Regency-era England. A single rose in any color is a symbol of perfection.
Red roses are strongly associated with love and passion, though the flowers may also convey respect, courage and congratulations. A single, long-stemmed red rose is often used to say "I love you." Red roses might also symbolize desire or attraction.
Red roses are as widely used today as they once were in Regency England. Some reality television shows use single, long-stemmed red roses on every episode. Annually, the winning horse in the Kentucky Derby is draped with a blanket of bright, red roses in a show of congratulations. Red roses are one of the most popular symbols of love.